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Water Color Painting 










Copyright, 1898, by Lbs and Shepard 

All Rights Reserved 

Water Color Painting 





Introduction . . ' i 

Colors 45 

Materials 73 

Flowers, Fruit, and Still Life loi 

Landscapes and Marines 154 

Figures and Animal? 181 

Monochrome 202 

Decoration 212 

Composition 221 

Glossary 246 

Index 247 

Color Washes 25 1 



Lord Macau lay, beginning the 
introduction to his great historical 
masterpiece, employed |K'rliaps the 
best opening that could be devised, in 
respect of directness and simplicity, for a book 
the primary intention of which is to give infor- 
mation and instruction. His first words are, " I 
purpose to write a history of the English people, 
from the accession of King James the Second down 
to a time which is within the memory of men still 
living " ; and he thus at once places before his read- 



ers the subject and scope of his work. The author 
of the present little volume can do no better than 
follow so illustrious an example, and say, " I pur- 
pose to write a book on Water Color Painting, for 
the use of beginners and amateurs, that shall treat 
of practice, not of theory, and shall be so clearly 
expressed and so free from technicalities that he 
who runs may read, and he who reads may thor- 
oughly understand, and thereby gain as much 
knowledge of the art as it is possible to derive from 
an elementary text-book." The average reader will 
no doubt find in it many items of information with 
which he is already familiar, and many explana- 
tions which he does not require ; but an experience 
with numerous pupils of all ages has proved that 
however obvious a fact may seem to be, there is 
always somebody who is ignorant of it, and that 
it is better that ten persons should hear an ex- 
planation for the second or even third time, than 
that one person should lack it altogether. 

It will be assumed that the reader is a begin- 
ner who has never handled color nor brushes, and 
knows nothing about them. The selection and 
care of materials, as well as methods of work, will 
be discussed ; for although the proverb that a poor 
workman blames his tools, is undoubtedly true, it 
is equally true that any kind of workman who has 
improper tools for his purpose, has a right to blame 


them, and a teach'er who refrained from giving the 
benefit of experienced knowledge in such matters, 
would be neglecting an important part of an in- 
structor's duty. Rumor has it that there are some 
students who always entertain the belief that their 
teacher's aim is simply to make money, not to 
conscientiously help them, and that he will yield 
really useful information only with great reluc- 
tance, reserving for his own exclusive use what 
he knows about pigments, brushes, materials, and 
peculiarly advantageous methods of work. Such 
students are known solely by reputation to the 
author, who has been perhaps unusually fortunate 
in her relations with her pupils, both in public and 
private classes ; but if any such read this book, for 
their enlightenment it would better be explained 
that a real artist depends for superiority on the 
skill given by long study and practice alone, and 
does not rely upon any cheap trick or system, 
which must be kept secret for fear that the whole 
world will employ it, and paint as well as he. A 
good teacher takes pride in turning out good 
pupils, and is not deterred by dread of rivalry 
from helping them to the utmost possible extent. 
On the subject of water color painting there 
is an immense diversity of theory. There are 
almost as many styles as there are artists, but the 
methods of work may be roughly divided into two 


great classes, — the dry and the wet. In both, wet 
color is, of course, employed ; but in the first, one 
wash is allowed to dry before the next color is put 
on the paper, while in the second, the color is kept 
more or less moist continually. It is impossible 
to treat all variations of style at length, within the 
limits of so small a volume as this ; so Flower 
painting will be dealt with according to the dry- 
paper method, while for Landscapes and Marines 
a wetter system of work will be explained. Figures, 
Animals, and Still Life being painted in a com- 
bination of the two. As a matter of fact, it makes 
no difference whether a picture is painted on wet 
or dry paper, so long as the painter secures the 
effect he wants, and produces an artistic result. 
There is no such thing as a cut-and-dried recipe 
for making a good picture. Good drawing, good 
coloring, and good composition are essential, but 
how the pleasing result is attained is quite a 
secondary matter. It is a great mistake to be- 
come so wedded to any special style of working 
that one is unable to recognize the charm of any 
other style, and cannot look at all from the stand- 
point of unbiassed criticism. Artistic bigotry is 
quite as narrowing in its tendency as bigotry of 
any other kind, and is equally an obstacle to the 
perception of broad, underlying truths. There is 
no possibility of settling on any one theory of 


painting as abstractly the best. Every student, 
after having been well grounded in the general 
principles of art, must find out the particular way 
of work with which he, individually, can produce 
the most satisfactory results ; but while pursuing 
his own chosen line, must yet keep his mind and 
feeling open to what is good in all lines. It too 
often happens that a person who has been trained, 
or who has trained himself, in a particular theory 
of painting, becomes so intolerant that every other 
theory seems to him preposterous, and he has 
no patience with, nor belief in, any aim that dif- 
fers from his own. This condition of mind is a 
misfortune to an artist, because it limits his ap- 
preciation to his own work and that of his special 
clique, whereas his perceptive powers should be so 
sensitive and so widely cultivated that he can say 
with Keats, " I have loved the principle of beauty 
in all things." 

No two persons see any object in exactly the 
same way. To one artist, one certain character- 
istic will appear more picturesque and noteworthy 
than the rest, while to another, some quite dif- 
ferent quality will appeal most forcibly as being 
the prominent trait. Take for an illustration an 
aggregation of white flowers, — a branch of dog- 
wood blossoms, or a cluster of lilies. One artist 
sees in them an opportunity for the exposition of 


an elaborate color scheme, in which the tints of 
the surrounding objects, whether those objects 
are included in his picture or not, are strongly 
reflected, to the almost entire exclusion of white. 
Another artist, using the identical flowers for a 
model, will feel their snowiness to be their chief 
charm, and will render it as purely as possible, 
allowing it to be affected by the environment no 
more than reason and nature absolutely demand. 
Each paints the flowers as they look to him, and 
each may be right. The wrong lies, not in the 
work of either of them, but in their mutual ina- 
bility to recognize the fact that there is more than 
one point of view. 

A good art teacher will, therefore, not insist 
that his pupils shall rigidly follow out his own 
personal and peculiar theories of painting, thus 
becoming merely poor imitations of himself, but 
will strive to give them such thorough general 
training and technical instruction as will enable 
them to develop in their own separate, individual 
ways. He will not correct them when they are 
simply working a little differently from himself, 
but only when his practised eye sees that they 
are transgressing the common law of art and 
nature. The question of individuality, fortunately, 
does not arise at the outset of an art student's 
career ; and so while any thoughtful teacher would 


refuse to confine his advanced pupils to one par- 
ticular groove of work, he can, and, indeed, must, 
give definite and detailed instructions to begin- 
ners, which they must accept and act upon with 
implicit faith, until the time comes when they be- 
gin to see for themselves the why and wherefore 
of what they have been told. However much 
latent originality there may be in the members of 
a class, which will ultimately cause each one of 
them to develop along a different line, they must 
all begin in the same way; just as the poet, his- 
torian, and novelist of a nation, must all learn the 
same alphabet. 

The early stages of art study are undoubtedly 
the most difficult and discouraging to the pupil, 
although they are intrinsically the simplest. The 
untrained eye has not an accurate perception of 
either form or color, and th« untrained hand is 
tremulous and clumsy in the manipulation of 
pencil and brush. Work that looks as if it would 
be easy to do well, is found to demand an unex- 
pected amount of time, attention, and skill, and 
even when these are given, or at least the first 
two, it turns out to be done badly. The student 
has need of a great deal of patience, industry, and 
courage, to carry him through this initial period, 
which every teacher will admit to be a trying one. 
Talent is not mentioned among the necessary 


qualifications, because it is not, as a matter of 
fact, a sine qua non. The average person is quite 
capable of learning to draw and paint fairly well, 
if he is willing to take enough trouble. Indeed, 
of two pupils, one talented, but indolent and in- 
attentive, the other without special artistic gifts, 
but persevering, ambitious, and amenable to in- 
struction, the latter will succeed, while the former, 
far better endowed for the work by nature, will 
fail. It is only another illustration of the old 
fable of the hare and the tortoise. 

There is a popular idea that to be born a genius 
is to be born free from the primal curse of man, — 
the curse of labor, — and to enter at once, without 
effort, into a greater estate of skill and knowledge 
than other men attain by a lifetime of unremit- 
ting toil and study. This idea is fallacious. The 
greatest geniuses hkve been the greatest thinkers 
and workers. Sometimes they worked eccentri- 
cally, but nevertheless they worked, and they had 
to acquire, in the beginning, the same elementary 
principles of art which form a part of the education 
of every student. Somebody has said that genius 
is the capacity for taking infinite pains. The dif- 
ference between the genius and the ordinary man 
is not that the genius does not have to learn, but 
that he can learn more easily and quickly, and put 
what he learns to better account. 


Another mistake is that of supposing that talent 
can educate itself successfully, and requires no 
other teaching. While it is undoubtedly true that 
talent and determination together can accomplish 
much unassisted, the waste of time and force in- 
volved is tremendous. Guided by his wits alone, 
however brilliant they may be, the student is sure 
to be led more or less astray, and to spend weeks 
and months in the effort to overcome difficulties 
which a word of advice from a competent person 
would solve at once. If every artist had to begin 
at the foundation, and discover for himself, by 
dint of repeated experiment and failure, the gen- 
eral principles of art and the requirements of 
technique, art would seem even longer and life 
even more brief, relatively, than they do as it is. 
The well-instructed student is — 

** The heir of all the ages, in the foremost files of time," 

for his teacher transmits to him an immediate 
knowledge of certain fully established laws and 
rules, and he has only to digest and apply this 
knowledge ; whereas the student beginning work 
with absolutely no aid, is not even aware that there 
are such laws and rules, much less what they are, 
and probably transgresses them all. If he has 
unusual talent, he by and by perceives that some- 
thing is wrong, but it is only by arduous efforts 

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shunned, and it is quite as important to know what 
is t6 be avoided, as what is to be emulated. By 
the examination of the work of professional artists, 
and the effort to find out its good and bad points, 
the critical faculty is developed, and the student is 
enabled to see wherein his own work is defective. 
Naturally he will often be at fault in his early at- 
tempts at art criticism, and will approve what is 
unworthy and condemn what does not deserve con- 
demnation; but in course of time, his judgment will 
become cultivated, and his eyes will be opened to 
unsuspected beauties in both art and nature, the 
appreciation of which will be a lifelong source of 
pleasure to him. 

There is a great difference of opinion among 
artists on the question of the actual technical in- 
struction to be given to pupils. To many profes- 
sionals, the idea of systematizing art study for 
beginners, and giving them absolutely definite rules 
for their guidance, seems contrary to the spirit of 
art, which should be untrammelled, and influenced 
solely by feeling. Nevertheless, it is a fact that 
there are certain laws, as unalterable as those of 
the Medes and Persians, which underlie all picture- 
making of whatever kind ; and in the author's 
opinion, it is far better to at once supply the pupil 
with an explanation of these laws, making it as 
clear and exact as the nature of the subject will 


permit, than to leave him to blunder into a knowl- 
edge of them by himself, on the ground that 
definite instruction is inartistic. The novice ex- 
periences quite difficulty enough in the pursuit of 
art, if he receives all the help his teacher can pos- 
sibly give him; and as there, are certain things 
which he must do, and certain others which he must 
leave undone, it seems entirely consonant with ar- 
tistic feeling to tell him what they are, as occasion 
arises, and explain the reasons for and against them. 
Wherever there is a rule, there is a reason for it, 
and a student works much better and makes more 
rapid progress when he fully understands why he 
is doing what he does. Such understanding no 
more hampers his individual expression later on, 
when he has something to express, than instruction 
in the grammar of a foreign language hampers him 
in speaking that language. It is simply the means 
which enables him to express his own thoughts in- 

On the assumption, therefore, that vagueness is 
not essential to proper art instruction, and that 
where definite information can be given, it should 
be made as plain as possible, the earliest steps to 
be taken in learning water color painting will be 
considered. Before any question of color arises, 
the subject of drawing requires attention, and it is 
a subject with which the amateur too seldom seri- 


ously concerns himself, probably because he does 
not appreciate how important it is. His fancy is 
fired by the attractions of color, which always 
strikes the untrained eye long before it grasps the 
idea of form, and he wants to "learn to paint," 
without at all realizing that objects have shape as 
well as color, and that he must be able to render 
that shape correctly, if he does not want his paint- 
ings to be monstrosities. Nothing can compensate 
for obviously bad drawing in a picture, and it be- 
hooves the student to severely criticise himself in 
this particular, excusing no mistake nor careless- 
ness. A less rigid and accurate training in draw- 
ing is needed for Flower, Landscape, and Marine 
work than for Figure and Animal painting ; for al- 
though the Flower and Landscape painter requires 
to have a fair general knowledge of form, nature 
indulges in many vagaries with trees, flowers, and 
rocks, and if the artist departs •a little from the 
actual shape, the variation is not evident. With 
human beings and animals, however, it is a different 
matter. Nature has provided them with a certain 
number of limbs and features, and in each variety 
of creature, the general form and proportions are 
the same. Any deviation from the rule that nature 
thus so distinctly lays down, constitutes deformity. 
To draw the figure of a man, woman, or beast, so 
that it appears misshapen, is to commit a glaring 


fault that no beauty and truth of coloring can con- 
ceal nor gloss over. Such an object is a continual 
vexation to the cultivated eye, and time cannot 
wither nor custom stale its ofiFensiveness. For 
this reason, amateurs, who do not wish or are not 
able to give a great deal of time and serious atten- 
tion to work, will do most wisely to devote them- 
selves to Flower and Landscape painting. In order 
to paint figures and animals acceptably, a long and 
thorough course of preliminary study is necessary, 
which includes drawing from the cast and from 
life, and, in the case of animals, from dead subjects. 
As the course demands much time and labor, it is 
hardly worth while for anybody to undertake it 
who does not intend to put his art education to 
some practical use. For this reason, therefore, as 
the present volume is intended mainly for the as- 
sistance of amateurs. Flower painting, which is 
most widely successful, and therefore popular, with 
them, will be treated of at greater length than 
other classes of work, and Landscape and Marine 
painting will come next in the allotment of space. 
Still Life painting is included with flowers, be- 
cause it so often accompanies them in pictures. 

One of the greatest difficulties with which a 
teacher has to contend in giving instruction to an 
inexperienced person, is the desire on the pupil's 
part to begin working from nature at once, and 


an impatience at the necessary previous practice 
of copying simple studies. The usual cry is, " I 
hate copying. I want to learn to paint pictures 
of my own, not to copy those of other people.'* 
Now, no teacher considers copying an end in it- 
self, but nearly all teachers know that it is an 
extremely valuable means of correcting careless 
habits in the pupil, training his eye to accurate 
observation, familiarizing him with the use of his 
materials and the different properties of colors, 
and giving him some idea of composition. Genera- 
tions of painters, including many of the greatest, 
have themselves copied, and, in turn, have made 
their pupils copy, and the helpfulness of the prac- 
tice cannot be questioned, assuming that good 
originals are chosen. In order to paint from 
nature, the pupil must possess some knowledge of 
color, and some facility in the use of the brush. 
It is impossible that the novice, who does not un- 
derstand even the mechanical management of the 
medium in which he is working, should be able to 
make headway at painting "from the round," as 
work from actual objects is called, since in that 
case, he must not only be able to handle his ma- 
terials with some degree of readiness, but must 
also be able to study out for himself the form, 
color, lights, shadows, and foreshortening of his 
model. In working "from the flat," or copying, 


the drawing, composition, color, and light and 
shade, are decided for him, and all that he has to 
do is to imitate them as closely as possible. He 
should, therefore, begin his artistic career by copy- 
ing patiently and conscientiously, striving to re- 
produce the spirit as well as the general aspect of 
the picture from which he is working, and to un- 
derstand the reason for everything he sees in it, — 
why some parts are dark, others light, some parts 
distinct, others vague. An artist always has good 
cause for making such variations, and it is the in- 
tellectual part of the pupil's education to find out 
those causes as he tries to imitate the results. 
He thus begins to learn how certain effects may 
be produced, and later on, when he encounters 
those same effects in nature, he knows what to do 
in order to render them properly. 

Very few students have an opportunity to copy 
fine, original water color pictures, but the water 
color facsimiles published by art journals and art 
lithographers are often very good, and answer the 
purpose admirably. In copying lithographs, it is 
always permissible to make the bright colors a 
little clearer and the shadow tones less complex, 
because effects in lithographs, which are made by 
machinery, are obtained in quite a different way 
from those seen in original brush-work. The gray 
shades, for example, are often secured by printing 


a series of aolors one over another, whereas in 
hand-work, such a shade would frequently be given 
by one wash of the same general tint as the com- 
posite printed one. 

Something very simple should be selected for a 
first attempt, — something easy in drawing, and 
having few colors. Large pictures, and pictures in 
which there is much detail, should be avoided until 
the pupil has gained confidence and knows how to 
go to work. It is best to select a foreground leaf, 
or flower, or tree, or figure, in the beginning, and 
work on that alone, without undertaking to copy 
the whole of the picture. Objects in the distance 
are usually too indistinct to be of much value for 
practice singly. The foreground, be it said, is that 
part of the picture which appears to be closest to 
the eye ; the background is the part which seems 
farthest away ; and the distance lies between the 
two. A clear, fine outline sketch in pencil should 
always be made first, in all cases, strong enough 
to be seen easily, and to serve as a guide for the 
laying on of color, but not strong enough to show 
after the painting is finished. Water color washes 
must always be kept as clean and clear as possible, 
and nothing mars them more effectually than an 
admixture of black lead ; and as black lead is sure 
to get into the color unless the preliminary draw- 
ing is very light and delicate, and made with a 


rather hard pencil, it is necessary* to avoid all 
negligence in these respects. Carelessness is a 
quality that has no connection whatever with real 
art. The term "artistic carelessness," which is 
sometimes used, signifies merely an apparent ease 
and absence of effort, which are in reality due to 
the exercise of much thought and skill, and are 
simply the art that conceals art. There is no such 
thing as being too careful, although the artist 
must learn not to allow his painstaking to come 
into evidence. Only the positive, tangible forms 
of the picture are to be shown by the pencil. The 
shadows must not be outlined nor indicated in any 
way, as they are not objects, but belong to the 
domain of color. 

It is much easier to find flower and landscape 
water color facsimiles appropriate for copying, than 
to find suitable figure studies. The latter are most 
frequently encountered on calendars and holiday 
booklets, and are even occasionally seen employed 
for advertising purposes, by firms who can afford 
the expense. The little French lithographs of sin- 
gle figures, men and women, which are to be found 
at picture-dealers' shops, are usually excellent from 
a technical point of view. The French are strong 
in the matter of drawing, and often secure artistic 
effects by very simple means. 

While the subject of copying is uppermost, refer- 


ence must be made to a temptation which is almost 
sure to assail the beginner, and which he should 
systematically resist. It is the temptation to trace 
the outline of his subject, instead of drawing it 
freehand, — freehand drawing meaning, of course, 
drawing done without the aid of instruments or 
mechanical resources of any kind. Tracing is a 
mechanical resource, and implies that the person 
who employs it, has no confidence in his ability to 
draw. The very fact that he cannot draw, how- 
ever, is the strongest of arguments against the 
habit of tracing, because if he constantly traces, 
he will never learn to draw, and will be quite at a 
loss when he comes to work from nature, where he 
cannot trace. The student's drawing should be 
made with no further guide than the careful obser- 
vation of the picture to be copied, and if the sketch 
is wrong, he should correct it in the same way, 
until he thinks it is as nearly right as he can make 
it. The only persons who can afford to trace are 
those who are so accurate draughtsmen that they 
need no such assistance. 

The drawing must, of course, be completed be- 
fore the coloring is begun ; that is, the student must 
not draw and paint a small portion of the subject 
he has chosen, and then draw a little more of it 
and paint that, progressing in a patchwork, piece- 
meal fashion. If he intends to copy a flower with 


a Stem and leaf, he should sketch them all in, be- 
fore he begins to paint, and then carry on the whole 
study at once, working now on the flower, now on 
the stem, and now on the leaf, so that they all 
keep in the same stage of adv^ance, and no part 
is finished while the rest is still untouched. To 
think of his work as a whole, and carry it on all 
together, give the student a breadth and decision 
which he cannot acquire by regarding it as an ag- 
gregation of individual details. Every part of a 
picture bears some relation more or less close, to 
the other parts, and to lose the sense of that rela- 
tionship is to lose the coherence of the picture, in 
which event it does not "hold together," as artists 
say, but has a tentative, scattered look that strikes 
the observer at once, although it is not always 
easy to put a finger on any definite fault of color 
or drawing. 

One of the first things which a beginner must 
learn, is how to place his picture on the paper. 
Unless he has forethought, it will surely happen, 
sooner or later, that when he has partly finished 
his sketch, he will find that he has forgotten to re- 
gard his subject as a whole, and has begun to draw 
so near one side of the paper that a portion of the 
picture will be cut off by the edge. One such ex- 
perience is usually enough to impress this point 
on his memory. The proper placing of the draw- 


ing is a very simple matter. Having first made 
sure that the piece of paper he proposes to use is 
large enough to contain the subject he has selected, 
he ascertains the central point of the subject, and 
also the central point of his paper, and begins to 
draw at the same distance from the middle of his 
paper that the place he chooses as a starting-point 
in his subject, is from the middle of that subject. 
With regard to selecting this starting-point for 
drawing, he must be guided by his feeling and his 
eye. Whatever appeals to him as being the most 
important and conspicuous, should be drawn first. 
In a flower picture, it is usually the largest group 
of flowers, or the flower that appears to be the 
most prominent ; with figures, it is generally the 
head ; while in landscape, the horizon line is the first 
thing to be placed, and then the principal trees or 
buildings, or whatever chances to form the main 
feature of the picture. 

The student should never begin work when he 
is tired, nor continue it after he has lost interest, 
for when his mind is not riveted on what he is 
doing, it is quite useless for him to keep on at it. 
While perseverance is necessary, it must be per- 
severance tempered with judgment. To stop work 
from indolence or discouragement, is inexcusable ; 
but to stop work from physical weariness, or be- 
cause the particular subject has been labored at 



SO long and conscientiously that the interest is 
worked out of it, is quite permissible. It some- 
times happens that a student who is really in 
earnest, and ardently desires to learn, becomes 
wrought up by repeated efforts and failures to so 
great a pitch of nervous irritation that he is quite 
incapable of doing himself justice, no matter how 
hard he may try. In that case, also, it is best to 
lay aside drawing and painting for the day, and to 
take up some other occupation that will turn the 
mind into a different channel of thought, and give 
it a chance to recover its normal tone. 

Another thing that the student must never do 
is to hurry. Haste is a great mistake in art work 
of any kind, but for a beginner in water color 
painting, it is especially bad. Haste causes him 
to slight his drawing, so that he does not fully 
understand what he is about when he begins to 
paint. Haste makes him careless in the selecting 
and mixing of his colors. Haste prevents him 
from properly exercising his powers of observa- 
tion, so that he is very likely not to see his sub- 
ject as it really is. Haste renders his handling of 
the brush clumsy. In fact, haste has so bad an 
effect in every way, that time spent in hurried 
work is time thrown away. The student will 
learn more from making one study at his leisure, 
conscientiously and intelligently, than he will in 


dashing off half a dozen at high speed in a hit- 
or-miss way. In wash water color work, every 
blemish shows, and mistakes are not easily cor- 
rected, as they are in oils, or other thick, opaque 
colors, with which they can be painted over and 
obliterated. The merit of wash water colors lies 
in their absolute purity and clearness. Working 
over the same ground again and again, making 
alterations and attempting to do away with errors, 
superinduces muddiness ; and when a water color 
picture becomes muddy, the virtue has departed 
from it, as a picture, although it still has its worth 
regarded as a warning. 

Before the student begins to put color on his 
paper, he should consider just what he intends to 
do, and how he intends to set about it. He ought 
to understand the reason for every touch he gives 
his work, otherwise it is of no value to him. If 
he arrives at a point from which he does not know 
how to go on, he should not continue to paint at 
random, but should lay down his brush, and not 
take it up again until he has fully decided upon 
the course he will pursue. Having made up his 
mind what is the best thing to be done, he should 
have the courage of his convictions, and do it 
boldly. Possibly he will decide mistakingly, but 
at least the mistake will be a frank and honest 
one, from which he can derive a definite lesson. 


It is through our mistakes that we learn, but the 
errors of weakness and timidity are the most diffi- 
cult to overcome, and have the least educational 
value. Sometimes a pupil, when asked his reason 
for 'haying put in some portion of his work in a 
palpably hesitating and tentative manner, will an- 
swer that he did it " so that if it were right it 
would be there, and if it were wrong it would not 
be noticed." Now there are many proverbs ex- 
pressive of the difficulty of doing two opposing 
things at the same time. One tells us that we 
" cannot run with the hare and hunt with the 
hounds," another that we cannot " serve both 
God and mammon," still another that we cannot 
"have our cake and eat it too." These adages 
are just as true with respect to art matters as they 
are with respect to ordinary life. The timid, ten- 
tative pupil gives himself no chance to be fairly 
and altogether in the right, even when his ten- 
dency is in the proper direction, because the style 
of his work betrays that he was undecided as to 
what was correct ; and he cannot be so undecided 
that it is not evident when he is going wrong. 
Serious thought ought to be given to a piece of 
work before it is begun, and it should then be 
attacked with some definite resolve. 

Mention has already been made of the necessity 
for keeping water color washes perfectly clear and 


free from muddiness. In order to do so, the stu- 
dent requires to have a knowledge of, and control 
over, color, and a certainty of handling, which he 
only acquires by long practice. A student will 
often learn to work intelligently and truthfully 
from nature, and to make very good original com- 
positions, before he gains the power to keep his 
color fresh. This freshness is partly dependent 
upon the perfect cleanliness of the entire water 
color outfit, and partly dependent upon skill in 
laying on the washes. To go back and work over 
ground that is still wet, has a most disastrous 
effect, and for this reason, every effort should be 
made to get the right color, and the right depth of 
color, at the first attempt. It must be borne in 
mind that when a wash is dry, it is very much 
paler in tone than when it is moist. The wetter 
the color is put on, the darker it then appears, in 
proportion to its actual tint when the water has 
evaporated. Full allowance must therefore always 
be made for the "drying out " of the color, as it is 
called, and it requires some experience to decide 
just how great this allowance must be. A begin- 
ner finds it difficult to believe that he must wash 
on the paint so much darker than it appears to be 
in the picture he is copying, and is very apt to try 
to make his wet wash match the color he sees. If 
he does this, when his wash is dry it is the mere 


ghost of what is really wanted. A water color 
painter, whether a novice or an adept, should al- 
ways keep a spare bit of water color paper beside 
him when he is at work, and test every wash on 
that before he vises it in his picture. This custom 
obviates many errors of both degree and quality of 

One of the best ways of learning how to manage 
color, and of ascertaining the strength, character, 
and varying possibilities of the several pigments, 
is to practise the putting on of washes, both plain 
and graded, without trying to make a picture. 
For this purpose a piece of water color paper may 
be marked off by pencil lines, into squares four 
or five inches in diameter. A wash of color is 
then put over each square separately, each paint 
being used by itself, so that the student may 
learn its individual appearance and effect. The 
first washes which are attempted should be flat ; 
that is, of the same depth of tone all over, and 
as smooth and even as possible. After flat washes 
have been mastered, graded ones should be tried, 
beginning with the palest possible degree of color 
at the top of the square, and gradually increasing 
in strength until the strongest degree is reached 
at the bottom. These may be varied by beginning 
with the strong color and allowing it to grow 
pale, then by making the wash weak at the top 


and bottom and heavy in the middle, and then 
again by having the lightest tone in the middle, 
and the strongest at the top and bottom. To 
make such washes well, requires a great deal of 
practice, and the skill and surety of color handling 
thus gained are invaluable. As pupils are some- 
times encountered who do not know how to obtain 
strong and weak washes at will, it may be stated 
that the force of a wash depends upon the propor- 
tion of water mixed with the paint. The more 
water is used, the fainter the color will be. To 
get the full strength of a color, it should be mixed 
with only just enough water to allow it to flow 
well from the brush. 

In connection with purity of color, further men- 
tion must be made of the desirability of keeping 
the outfit of water color materials perfectly clean. 
Not only must the paint-box, slab, and brushes be 
washed often, but the water in the water-glass 
must be changed at short intervals during work. 
The brighter and more delicate are the colors em- 
ployed, the more frequently must the water be 
renewed, for it is with this water that the student 
mixes his colors, and any impurity in it will affect 
their clearness. Another point to be considered is 
the cleanliness of the surface upon which the work 
is to be done. All paper has been handled more or 
less before it comes into the retail purchaser's pos- 


session, and although it may seem to be perfectly 
clean, every finger-touch leaves upon it a slight 
trace of oiliness, no matter how delicately cared 
for the hand may be. Such traces are often quite 
invisible, but where they remain, the paper does 
not take the color perfectly. Imperceptible set- 
tlings of dust likewise collect on the surface, and 
affect its power of receiving washes. It is, there- 
fore, always advisable to lightly sponge the paper 
with clear water about a quarter of an hour before 
it is to be used. This takes away all extraneous 
matter, and opens the grain of the paper, securing 
a clean, receptive surface. It should be allowed to 
become completely dry before being put to use. 
If a visible layer of dust has accumulated, it 
should be blown off previously to washing the 
paper, and all evident spots should be removed 
with a soft eraser ; otherwise the sponging process 
will serve only to rub the impurities into the sur- 
face, and ** set *' them so thoroughly that there is 
no way of being rid of them. Water has the prop- 
erty of rendering lead pencil marks on paper in- 
delible, hence the pencil sketch that the pupil 
draws for his guidance in painting should be 
made after the surface is washed and dried, not 
before. Else this sketch, which should not show 
at all in the finished picture, will always be in 
strong evidence, and cannot be erased. After 


what has been said, it is hardly needful to add 
that the hand should touch the paper as little as 
possible while work is going on, and should never 
be rubbed across it. 

A thing to be particularly guarded against is 
the use of an eraser, even of the softest kind, 
while the paper is wet, or even moist. It must be 
entirely dry before being touched with a rubber, 
or the surface is taken off, and a flaw created- that 
will become conspicuous as soon as color is washed 
over it. The effect is even worse when a damp 
wash of color is rubbed. Both paper and eraser 
must be free from every vestige of moisture when 
they come into conjunction. The erasers belong- 
ing to the water color outfit ought never to be 
taken for general use, as they easily collect dust 
and dirt, and are then sources of injury instead of 
purifying agents. They should be protected from 
dust and dampness, and employed exclusively for 
water color work. The practice adopted by some 
water color pupils who are also working in char- 
coal, of making one rubber serve in both branches 
of study, is a most unwise one, for a taint of 
charcoal dust means ruin to a water color wash. 
Indeed, the whole water color outfit should be 
reserved for its own special purpose, and should 
be kept all together by itself. 

For all painting done in the house, a proper 


arrangement of light is necessary. The light 
should, as a rule, fall from the top, or from the 
left side, otherwise the shadow of the student's 
hand lies upon the surface where he is working, 
and obscures his view of what he is doing. In 
case he is left-handed, however, he should let the 
light fall from the right, for the same reason. 
When working from an actual object, — a cluster 
of flowers, a bit of still life, or a figure, for ex- 
ample, — he should, in the majority of cases, sit 
directly opposite his model, or a little toward the 
light side. If he places the model between him- 
self and the light, he will see very little except 
heavy shadows, while if the light is behind the 
model, he will have no high lights at all, but 
simply masses of shade diversified by reflections, 
and in case of translucent objects, like leaves or 
flower petals, vague lights shining through them. 
To have some portion of a picture in decided 
shadow, often heightens its effectiveness and charm ; 
but a picture all shadow is dull and uninteresting. 
Be it' said, for the benefit of those readers who 
do not understand the foregoing explanation, that 
the parts of an object which receive the full rays of 
unobstructed light directly upon them, are in high 
light. Reflected light is that which does not fall 
directly from the light source, but is reflected upon 
the object from some other object or surface. For 


instance, if a group of flowers be placed so that 
the light falls upon them from the left, the most 
prominent flowers on the left side will be in high 
Hght, while those on the right side are in more or 
less deep shadow ; but if a piece of white paper be 
held near the flowers on the dark side, it will re- 
flect a certain amount of light upon them, and make 
them appear much more distinct. It is almost 
always difficult for a beginner to distinguish the 
difference between direct and reflected light, but 
it is a difference that he must learn to appreciate 
if he is ever to do successful woik. Neither 
reflected light, nor light shining through any 
object, is ever as brilliant as direct light, although 
it often appears so by contrast with the dense 
shadows which environ it ; and it should never be 
left of the same positive value in a picture. If 
the subject is a white flower, the high lights will 
be pure white, while the reflected lights, however 
strong they may seem to be, will really have a veil 
of shadow over them. 

Light is the source of color, and it is only when 
there is light enough to enable him to see clearly 
that the student can paint to advantage. Work 
snould be dropped promptly at the closing in of 
twilight, for painting done in the dusk, is done at 
random, and is therefore worth nothing, either as 
practice or achievement. Neither is it advisable 


to paint for a very long time continuously. The 
mind and vision become cramped, just as the body 
does, and cannot exercise their powers fully and 
freely on the work in hand. It is an excellent 
plan to lay down the brush for a few moments 
occasionally, and either close the eyes, or fix them 
upon some distant object. Not only do these little 
recesses freshen the powers of observation and 
execution, but they are a precaution against any 
injury to the eyesight. Every oculist will say 
that to keep the faculty of vision exercised habitu- 
ally and unremittingly at the same focus, weakens 
it, and renders it liable to become defective. If 
the focus is decidedly changed now and then, 
even if only for a minute or two, the strain is 
lessened. Students whose vision is any way ab- 
normal should be careful to secure proper glasses 
before attempting to draw or paint, otherwise some 
serious ocular difficulty may develop. It goes 
without saying that in case of inflammation of the 
eyes, or any other acute local trouble, art work 
should be abandoned at once, and should not be 
resumed until the unhealthy condition has quite 

There are times in the career of every art 
student when he seems to himself to be making 
no progress whatever — to be even "going back- 
ward," as he dolefully complains. Such a station- 


ary period is very disheartening while it lasts, 
but is by no means to be taken as an indication 
that he has reached the final limit of his powers. 
An experience with many pupils goes far to prove 
the theory that the natural way for the student 
to advance in his art work is not by an even, 
steady, forward movement, but by sudden bounds, 
between which he stands still. Why this should 
be so, it is not easy to explain. Perhaps he is 
obliged to pause now and then to digest and as- 
similate the knowledge he has acquired, before he 
can put it to practical use ; perhaps his artistic 
instincts are only spasmodically active : but it is 
certain that a pupil usually produces work of the 
same general grade for a long time, its quality 
varying little from week to week, when one day 
he surprises his teacher and himself by doing 
something a great deal better than he has ever 
done before, thus establishing a new standard by 
which, in turn, he pauses. He must not be dis- 
couraged, therefore, when he does not visibly 
progress, but must work on, patiently doing his 
best, in the full faith that in course of time that 
best will suddenly become very much better. 

The various difficulties of the beginner having 
been given a reasonable amount of attention, a few 
points of interest to more advanced students will 
now be touched upon. By advanced students are 


meant those who have attained a certain degree of 
deftness in managing their materials, and who are 
working from actual objects instead of confining 
themselves to copying. As a rule, from the mo- 
ment a pupil enters upon the study of painting, he 
is longing for the hour to come when he will be 
allowed to work from nature, and will not hesitate 
to begin long before he is competent to do so, if 
he can by any means wring a reluctant half-per- 
mission from his teacher, who knows that it is a 
case of " more haste less speed," and that unless 
the pupil has been fairly well grounded in tech- 
nique by a thorough course of practice from the 
flat, the difficulties he will experience in working 
from the round will seem almost insurmountable to 
him, and will perhaps so appal him that he will 
give up the attempt to master them. 

Assuming, however, that the student has gone 
through the prescribed course, and is now strug- 
gling for a foothold in the deep water of original 
work, a question to which he will immediately 
have to give his thought, is that of how much of 
what he sees, or thinks that he sees, in his model, 
he shall put into his picture, and how much he 
shall omit, and by what means he shall learn to 
distinguish between what ought to be chosen and 
what rejected. Of course no artist ever paints 
every detail that is apparent to his eye, or that he 


knows is there ; and this point of knowing is the 
rock upon which the bark of the student is apt to 
spHt. He cannot have too exact a knowledge of 
the subject he is painting, but he can easily, and 
nearly always does, make a wrong use of that 
knowledge, and is led by it into including in his 
picture things of which his eye gives him no cog- 
nizance. The business of the painter is to paint 
what he sees in his model, not what he surmises 
might, could, would, or should be seen, if his eyes 
were a little sharper, or the light a little more 
searching, or if he were using a microscope. He 
is to seize and transcribe upon the paper those 
characteristics, both of form and color, which ap- 
peal to his artistic feeling, putting in everything 
which is requisite to make his picture rational, and 
leaving out what seems to him not necessary to its 
sense. It is only by careful study that the stu- 
dent acquires the power of wise discrimination. 
His first impulse, if he knows a certain fact about 
the object he is painting, is to bring that fact into 
evidence in his picture, without stopping to con- 
sider whether the fact is really apparent in the 
actual object. For example, at the distance from 
the painter at which a living model stands when 
posing for a small water color sketch of the full 
figure, the precise color of the eyes is often a mat- 
ter of mere conjecture. The lashes, and the shad- 


ows in the orbits, modify the tint, and sometimes 
change it altogether, giving blue or green eyes the 
general aspect of gray or brown ones. If the in- 
experienced student is aware, however, that the 
rnodel's eyes are blue, he is almost sure to act upon 
that knowledge, and to paint them blue, in doing 
which, although he is abstractly truthful, he is 
guilty of artistic falsehood, because he does not 
really see them blue. Again, in painting in the 
distant figure of a man, for a touch of life in a 
landscape picture, the student will be very apt to 
show the eyes, nose, and mouth, because he knows 
that a man possesses those features. As a matter 
of fact, when a man is so far away that he forms a 
mere unimportant detail in the landscape, he vir- 
tually possesses nothing of the sort ; he is simply 
a more or less vaguely defined form, and a bit of 
color. It is an extremely difficult task to make a 
pupil understand that he can put himself entirely 
in the wrong by clinging to the absolute verities. 
When he finally fully grasps the idea that he can 
be convicted of a lie, artistically speaking, by 
showing what he knows to be true, he has made 
an important advance. 

He must, then, work from external appearances, 
not from his inner consciousness. If a thing looks 
gray, he must paint it gray, even though he knows 
that it is actually >vhite, or green, or pink. A leaf 


held in the hand, close to the eye, does not present 
at all the same appearance that it does at a little 
distance, forming a part of -a group of several 
leaves. The fact that he is aware that it has 
veins, is no reason for putting them in his picture 
if he does not see them ; nor need his knowledge 
that its real color is blue-green — if such happens 
to be the case — prevent, him from painting it yel- 
low, if the light chances to strike it in such a way 
that it seems yellow. He is to paint what he sees, 
as it looks under existing conditions of light, at- 
mosphere, and distance, and he is to try to see 
only what is requisite to the artistic end he has in 

Detail for the mere sake of detail is to be avoided ; 
but where it serves some definite purpose, it may 
be used with perfect propriety, and when used, it 
should be absolutely correct, otherwise it becomes 
a blemish instead of an assistance to the meaning 
of the picture. Correctness is, indeed, essential in 
everything. No matter how slightly an object is 
indicated, the indications should be accurate as far 
as they go. 

The subject of the wrong use of knowledge hav- 
ing been dealt with, it now remains to speak of its 
right use. To know all about one's subject is an 
important element of success in any sort of work ; 
as has already been said, we cannot know too much. 


although we may lack discretion as to the proper 
way to employ such knowledge. An artist has, 
not infrequently, to paint partly from memory, as 
when he cannot find such models as he wants, or, 
in the case of flowers, when the specimens from 
which he is working wilt before his picture is fin- 
ished. Then a thorough knowledge of his subject 
stands him in good stead. Without such knowl- 
edge, he must either come to a standstill, or risk 
making some blunder that will expose him to the 
ridicule of the well-informed. As an illustration of 
how easy it is to commit such mistakes, the case 
may be cited of a student who made a picture of 
sweet peas, in which the flowers were painted from 
nature, but the foliage was supplied from memory. 
The leaves were correct in form and color, but were 
represented as growing alternately on the stem, 
whereas in reality they grow in pairs, except at the 
places at which the stem branches, where some- 
times three, or even four, are found ranged around 
the point of division. The pupil was perfectly 
familiar with sweet peas, but not having the habit 
of observation, only those facts of form and color 
had been remembered which were so obvious that 
they could not be overlooked, if the plant were no- 
ticed at all ; that is, the characteristic vine form, 
the tendrils, and the shape of the leaf, which is 
exceedingly simple. The difficulty that nearly 


everybody experiences in answering, without first 
looking the matter up, the old catch question as 
to whether the ears of a cow grow in front of 
the horns, or the horns in front of the ears, is an 
exemplification of how little most persons really 
observe when they look at an object. They have 
always been accustomed to the sight of cows ; they 
are aware that all cows have ears, although whether 
this knowledge is derived from actually regarding 
the ears, or from a general consciousness that 
nearly every sort of animal has ears of some kind, 
it would be diflScult to tell ; they also know that 
most cows have horns, since the horns occupy a 
prominent situation ; but as to the relative position 
of the horns and ears, they are entirely at a loss. 
To the ordinary person such matters may seem 
trifling and of no consequence, but to the artist, 
all characteristic facts of nature are valuable, and 
worthy of notice and remembrance. 

The student, from the very beginning of his 
original work, should spare no pains in his efforts 
to avoid what may be called mistakes of stupidity ; 
that is, mistakes arising from careless observation 
such as has just been mentioned. He cannot help 
falling into errors of inexperience and awkward- 
ness, like faulty drawing, coloring, perspective, and 
composition, but these do not appeal to the profes- 
sional artist who criticises them, as being laughable. 


They are simply faults caused by a lack of famil- 
iarity with the technique of painting, and not evi- 
dences of a mind ignorant of those general truths 
which are a part of the equipment of every painter 
and draughtsman. To paint a bird with the joints 
of its legs bending the wrong way, however, or a 
cat with its eyes set straight in its head, instead of 
obliquely, is to invite ridicule instead of thought- 
ful criticism. 

The opinion of lay persons — that is to say, of 
persons who have no real knowledge of art, ac- 
quired from either reading or practice — is not a 
reliable guide for the student. Even when he does 
not intend to become a professional, he should try 
to keep in line with professional ideals as far as 
he goes. The criticism of the artistically ignorant 
is worth nothing as criticism, because it is based 
upon their personal like or dislike of the subject 
the painter has chosen, and does not take into con- 
sideration the abstract merit of the work. It is pos- 
sible for a picture to be very good in itself, even 
when the subject is repulsive or painful. An exam- 
ple that comes to mind in this connection is Dora's 
painting of wild animals in the Colosseum at night, 
roaming among the bodies of the Christians whom 
they have killed. Another is Vereschagin's pic- 
ture of Sepoys being shot from the muzzles of 
British cannon after the Indian Mutiny. 


The Student should, therefore, never let his work 
be influenced by the approval or condemnation of 
such critics as have no knowledge of artistic re- 
quirements. He should submit his work to com- 
petent judgment whenever he has an opportunity 
of doing so, but should not blindly follow the most 
skilled advice without reasoning about it, and dis- 
covering upon what facts it is founded, and why 
it is good. If he does a thing merely because 
he is told to do it, without caring for the logic 
of it, he may learn to paint dexterously, it is 
true, but his work will be mechanical, and will 
have no individual spirit. This applies, of course, 
only to advanced students, who are painting pic- 
tures of their own. The beginner must, naturally, 
take his elementary teaching on faith, just as he 
takes his A B C on faith, otherwise he will have 
no fulcrum for his individual efforts. "He who 
would command must first learn to obey." Al- 
though he should from the first try to understand 
criticism, he is not in a position to convince him- 
self of its justice by his own reason, until he has 
progressed far enough to have some artistic idea 
to express, and some technical means of express- 
ing it, gained by a fair amount of drill both of mind 
and hand. 

In conclusion, a word may be said about origi- 
nality of method and effect. Experiment is allow^ 


able, even desirable, but a definite departure from 
approved lines should never be seriously under- 
taken until the new way is found to be indubi- 
tably as good as or better than the old. To do a 
thing in a certain way simply and solely because 
everybody else does it in another way, shows 
vanity, not originality. An obvious strain after 
novelty invariably weakens a picture. Originality 
must be spontaneous, an outgrowth of the paint- 
er's own peculiar personality, or of his special 
environment, or of the knowledge attained by un- 
usually profound study of the various aspects 
under which the laws of art and nature display 
themselves. Even if an artist is not particularly 
original, as long as his drawing and coloring are 
good, and he deals understandingly with an inter- 
esting subject, he cannot be commonplace. 

Mathematical perspective need not be touched 
upon, as it will not be required ; nor is it necessary 
to speak of general perspective by itself, but only 
in connection with instruction under the specific 
headings. Amateurs have no need to go deeply 
into the matter, and even professional artists often 
rely entirely upon common sense and a perfectly 
trained eye to insure right perspective effects. If 
the student can bring himself to regard the actual 
object or scene that he is drawing as a representa- 
tion on a flat vertical plane, and put his lines on the 


paper just as he sees them arranged on that plane, 
his sketch will be in proper perspective. Com- 
position is a subject of so much importance, and 
is usually so bewildering to the inexperienced 
worker, that it is treated of in a separate chapter. 
As this is a book for teaching painting, not 
drawing, the qualification of good draughtsman- 
ship wjll hereafter be taken for granted in the 
student, and all instruction will be given on that 


Water color painting is a comparatively mod- 
ern development of art, a development which the 
wonderful improvement in color making during the 
last half century has rendered possible. There 
were water color artists, of course, more than fifty 
years ago, but the distemper painter was the only 
one who had adequate colors for his purpose be- 
fore then, and distemper painting partakes far 
more of the nature of oils than it does of water 
colors in the present understanding of the term. 
Distemper colors, like oil colors, are opaque, and 
more or less thick when used, generally having a 
base of body white, with which coloring-matter is 
combined, the whole being made adhesive by the 
addition of some sort of glue or size. Although 
water is the medium employed for mixing them, 
their treatment and effect are so different from 
those of wash water colors as almost to consti- 
tute another branch of art — a branch which will 



not be considered here, since the purpose of this 
book is to deal with water colors in the sense in 
which they are now most widely understood and 
generally employed. The term water color sug- 
gests to the average mind a color which may be 
washed over paper, and which stains it rather than 
coats it ; and it is for the use of such colors that 
instruction will be given. 

The old-fashioned wash water color pictures 
were in character very much like the little paint- 
ings which children make. A careful black-and- 
white study was first prepared, which was also 
shaded in black-and-white, and upon this the 
color was laid in flat tints, the artist relying en- 
tirely, for his modeling, on the original shading, 
which showed through the color. Sometimes the 
pictures thus treated were pencil or pen-and-ink 
sketches, or black-and-white wash drawings, some- 
times they were engravings, but in all cases the 
result was dull and unsatisfactory, if looked at 
from the point of view of modern water color 
work, in which the black-and-white sketch is 
simply the invisible skeleton which serves as a 
framework upon which the picture itself is mod- 
eled in the most brilliant and varied tones. The 
ancient water colorist had at his command only 
pigments so pitifully inadequate that it is won- 
derful that anybody ever seriously attempted to 


make use of them. Licorice and tobacco juice 
were included in the limited list of colors, and the 
entire palette was of the most fugitive nature. 

As this book is intended for the assistance of 
beginners, it may be well to explain that the word 
palette is used in another sense than the popular 
one, in which it signifies the plate or tablet upon 
which a painter sets and mixes his colors. It also 
means the range of the colors ; and when an artist 
is said to use a small palette, or an extensive one, 
it is simply a way of expressing the fact that he 
habitually employs a few or a great many colors. 
The term fugitive is applied to those pigments 
which fade, or change in any way when exposed to 
the action of ordinary light and air. AH water 
colors alter slightly in drying, but the permanent 
ones experience no further change after the water 
with which they are mixed has once evaporated, 
while the fugitive ones cannot be relied upon to 
retain any stated depth or quality of tint. 

For the last fifty years, the resources of the 
water colorist have been steadily increasing. 
Artists' colormen — that is, the manufacturers of 
pigments for artists* use — have turned their ear- 
nest attention to the discovery, invention, and 
preparation of durable and brilliant colors for 
wash work, and their attempts have been as suc- 
cessful as all serious effort, wisely directed, is 


sure to be. The list of water colors is now a long 
one, and includes every variety of tint that can be 
required by any painter. Chemical experiment 
has revealed many secrets invaluable to the artist, 
and well equipped as he now is, the search for 
better and more lasting colors still continues, with 
the result that every year or two sees some new 
and important addition made to his palette. 
Among the most enterprising and careful, and 
therefore the most fortunate of these seekers after 
improved materials and method^ of manufacture, 
are Messrs. Winsor and Newton of London, to 
whose courtesy the author is indebted for the ad- 
mirable color-pages which are included at the 
back of this little text-book, and which will be 
found not only of inestimable worth to the begin- 
ner, but of interest to more advanced workers, to 
whom the bulk of the reading-matter is not di- 
rected. These graded color-washes illustrate the 
force and quality of the various pigments, and 
form a valuable reference for the professional 
painter as well as the amateur. It is a fact 
worthy of remark that many artists of well-known 
name and established standing, are often abso- 
lutely ignorant of the nature and composition of 
the colors which they are constantly using. They 
know that a certain sort of paint will give a par- 
ticular effect, but of what that paint is made, and 


whether it is to be relied upon to hold its tone, 
they do not know. It unfortunately happens that 
some of the most brilliant and beautiful colors do 
not stand well> and require to be used with discre- 
tion, and guarded from unnecessary exposure to 
light, heat, and gas. An artist unaware of this, 
makes a charming picture with whatever paints 
suit his fancy, signs it, sells it, and forgets all 
about it. If he encounter it a year or two later, 
he may find that all the lovely coloring has disap- 
peared, and that 'his name is attached to a flat, 
dull, lifeless expanse that is only the ghost of his 
original color-scheme. If he do not encounter it, 
matters are still worse, not that the picture will 
damage his reputation to any greater extent, but 
that, not seeing his mistake, he continues to re- 
peat it, while if it is brought home to him, he will 
learn wisdom in choosing his paints. 

Exact information with regard to the composi- 
tion and permanence of colors is not always easily 
obtained, however, especially by the inexperienced 
student. It is true that in one sense it is of no 
particular consequence if a beginner employs fugi- 
tive colors altogether, and exposes them recklessly 
to the most unfavorable influences ; for his earliest 
efforts are worth nothing as works of art, and 
later on, when he understands the subject better, 
he would doubtless be glad if he could know that 


they had faded entirely out of existence, and could 
never reproach him with their faults of ignorance 
and crudeness. Nevertheless, as the real value of 
those first attempts at painting is in the practice 
and training he acquires in making them, it is im- 
portant for him to learn all he can, from the very 
beginning, and he would best try to accustom him- 
self at once to the colors which it is most advan- 
tageous to employ. There is no possibility of 
being too completely and thoroughly informed 
with regard to the details of any occupation upon 
which one enters, and some knowledge of the pig- 
ments he uses, or some source to which he can 
refer for that knowledge, should be in the posses- 
sion of every art worker. From data kindly sup- 
plied by Messrs. Winsor and Newton, a list of 
permanent, moderately permanent, and fugitive 
water colors has been compiled, including a state- 
ment of some facts with regard to their composi- 
tion, and, taken in conjunction with the graded 
color-washes, it supplies to the student a fund of 
practical information sufficient for all ordinary 

Water color pictures are generally considered to 
be of a perishable nature, and they are undeni- 
ably more fragile and more liable to destruction 
than those painted in oils. On the other hand, 
however, they are not subject to the deterioration 


caused by varnishes, driers, and similar substances, 
which form part of the physical composition of oil 
pictures, and which are nearly always more or less 
unfavorably influenced by time. If water colors 
made only by a reliable manufacturer are chosen, 
and discrimination is used in their selection, work 
done with them ought to be practically permanent, 
with proper care. Pictures painted in water color 
should never be exposed to direct sunlight nor to 
moisture. They should always be framed with 
glass, and thick paper should be pasted over the 
back of the frame and picture to exclude dust. 
Only by being protected to this extent can they 
be kept in good condition. The owner of pictures 
of any kind should always bear in mind that they 
are delicate property, and should guard them ac- 

Permanency, as regards color, is a relative term. 
There are very few manufactured pigments or 
dyes made which can withstand the influence of 
full sunlight acting upon them continuously. In 
living organisms, sunlight usually has the effect 
of enriching the color — it intensifies the tone of 
foliage and deepens the tint of the skin — but 
where the principle of life is absent, the sun's rays 
almost always either remove the color entirely with 
more or less speed, or else change its character. 
Take for example a living plant that has been kept 


in a dark cellar. The leaves and stems are pale, 
sometimes even white ; but if the plant be placed 
in the sunshine, they will begin to darken at once, 
and will soon be of a strong, bright green ; or, if it 
is a plant of variegated foliage, like a coleus, all the 
tints — the red, yellow and maroon — will assume 
great vividness. If one of these richly colored 
leaves be broken from the plant and left without 
water, the life principle soon departs from it, just 
as the life goes out of an amputated limb. Then 
the sunhght, that intensified the color of the leaf 
while it was alive, begins at once to rob it of bril- 
liancy, and to bleach and change it, until, after the 
lapse of a short time, its characteristic tints have 
entirely disappeared. 

It will therefore be seen that exposure to the 
direct rays of the sun does not constitute a fair 
test of the permanence of the color of a pigment, 
but rather, exposure to the atmosphere and light to 
which a picture is ordinarily subjected. Broadly 
speaking, if under these conditions it holds its 
color, it may be called permanent ; if it changes 
in a slight degree, but not essentially, it is moder- 
ately permanent ; if it changes entirely, either 
fading, darkening, or assuming a decidedly different 
tint, it is fugitive. A quotation from a statement 
made by Messrs. Winsor and Newton with regard 
to the color-tests they employ in their own factory 


(every reliable color manufacturer tests his colors 
thoroughly, in order to find out their quality and 
value, and to ascertain where improvement can be 
made) may be of use in making this point clear : — 

" The word permanence is capable of such broad 
signification that it has seemed desirable to define 
with some exactitude what is meant ... by the 
permanence of a color. By the permanence of a 
water color is meant its durability when washed on 
Whatman paper and exposed freely, under a glass 
frame, for a series of years, to ordinary daylight ; 
no special precautions (other than the usual past- 
ing of the back of the frame) being taken to pre- 
vent the access of an ordinary town atmosphere. 
By an ordinary town atmosphere is signified an 
atmosphere containing normally, as the active 
change-producing constituents, oxygen, moisture, 
and a small percentage of carbonic acid, together 
with chronic traces of sulphur acids, spasmodic 
traces of sulphuretted hydrogen, and a certain 
amount of dust and organic matter in suspen- 
sion. . . . 

" It will be seen from the above definitions that 
our colors are tested under conditions which are as 
nearly as possible the same as those which obtain 
in the ordinary practice of picture-painting and 

"With regard to the method of arranging the 


colors in three classes, it is, of course, impossible 
to draw any hard-and-fast line between a perma- 
nent and a moderately permanent, or a moderately 
permanent and a fugitive, color. The arrange- 
ment is an arbitrary one, and made only for con- 
venience. Finally it should be pointed out that 
one very important consideration which comes into 
play in the case of actual pictures — the mutual 
action of mixed colors — is not taken into account 
at all in the classification, which has reference 
only to colors exposed /^rj^." 

Some of the mixed colors classified as moder- 
ately permanent or fugitive, have a permanent con- 
stituent, and in that case they do not change in 
the absolute sense of the word. Only the un- 
stable element is affected ; but as any noticeable 
alteration makes a color untrustworthy, these 
paints are necessarily classed with the charac- 
teristically uncertain ones. 



Alizarin Crimson : A Lake prepared from artificial Aliz- 

Aureolin : Double Nitrate of Cobalt and Potassium. 

Aurora Yellow: An opaque variety of Sulphide of Cad- 

Bistre : A brown soot obtained from Wood. 

Black Lead: Prepared Graphite. 

Blue Black : A variety of Carbon Black, prepared by char- 
ring Woody Tissue. 

British Ink, 

Brown Madder : A Lake prepared from the Madder Root. 

Brown Ochre : A Native Earth. 

Burnt Carmine: Formerly obtained by charring Cochi- 
neal Carmine. Winsor and Newton now prepare a per- 
manent article from Madder Carmine. 

Burnt Lake : Formerly obtained by heating Crimson Lake. 
A more permanent variety is now prepared from Mad- 
der Lake. 

Burnt Sienna : Calcined Raw Sienna. 

Burnt Umber : Calcined Raw Umber. 

Cadmium Yellow : \ Different and partly transparent 

Cadmium Yellow^ pale : > varieties of Sulphide of Cad- 

Cadmium Orange: } mium. 

Cerulean Blue : Stannate of Cobalt. 

Charcoal Gray : A gray made of Charcoal. 

Chinese White : A specially 4ense variety of Oxide of Zinc. 

Cobalt Blue : Alumina tinctured with Oxide of Cobalt. 

Cobalt Green : Zinc Oxide tinctured with Oxide of Cobalt. 

Cologne Earth : Calcined Vandyke Brown. 
^ Constant White: Barium Sulphate. 


French Blue : An artificial Ultramarine. 

French Ultramarine : Synonymous with French Blue. 

Indian Purple : Originally a fugitive color made of Cochi- 
neal Lake with a base of Copper. A permanent sub- 
stitute is now manufactured from Madder Lake and 
French Ultramarine. 

Indian Red: A variety of Iron Oxide. 

Indian Yellow : Prepared Purree imported from India. 

Ivory Black : A Carbon Black prepared by charring Ivory. 

Lamp Black : A variety of Carbon Black obtained by the 
imperfect combustion of Hydrocarbons. 

Lemon Yellow : A preparation of Chromate of Barium. 

Light Red: Calcined Yellow Ochre. 

Madder Carmine : A Lake prepared from the Madder Root. 

Madder Lake : Synonymous with Rose Madder. 

Mars Orange : \ Earths containing Oxide of Iron as the 

Mars Yellow : ) essential coloring constituent. 

Naples Yellow: In water color, a combination of Zinc 
White and Cadmium Yellow. 

Neutral Orange : A mixture of Cadmium Yellow and Vene- 
tian Red. 

New Blue : A pale variety of French Ultramarine. 

Oxide of Chromium : Chromium Sesquioxide. 

Permanent Blue : A variety of French Ultramarine. 

Permanent Violet : A new mineral pigment introduced by 
Winsor and Newton, containing Manganese as its tinc- 
torial constituent. 

Permanent White : Synonymous with Chinese White. 

Permanent Yellow : A preparation of Chromate of Barium 
and Zinc White. 

Pink Madder : A variety of Rose Madder. 

Primrose Aureolin : A pale variety of Aureolin. 

Purple Madder: A Lake prepared from the Madder Root. 


Raw Sienna : Prepared Native Earth. 

Raw Umber: Native Umber. 

Roman Ochre: Prepared Native Earth. 

Roman Sepia : Sepia tinted with Sienna. 

Rose Madder : A Lake prepared from the Madder Root. 

Rubens' Madder : A Lake prepared from the Madder Root. 

Scarlet Madder : A weak variety of Rose Madder. 

Sepia: In water color, a preparation of genuine Cuttlefish 

Smalt : Silicate of Cobalt. 

Terre Verte : A Native Earth. 

Ultramarine ^Genuine : The choicest extract of Lapis Lazuli. 

Ultramarine Ash : The second quality of blue obtained 
from Lapis. Lazuli. 

Vandyke Brown : Prepared Native Earth. 

Venetian Red : Artificially prepared Sesquioxide of Iron. 

Veronese Green : Synonymous with Viridian. 

Viridian : A hydrated and transparent variety of Chro- 
mium Sesquioxide. 

Yellow Ochre : Prepared Native Earth. 


Antwerp Blue : A weak variety of Prussian Blue contain- 
ing Alumina. 

Bronze : A mixed Chrome Green. 

Brown Pink : A Lake made from Quercitron Bark. 

Chrome Yellow : Normal Chromate of Lead. 

Chrome Lemon : A combination of Chromate and Sulphate 

of Lead. 

Chrome Deep : 7 

^, •^ r Chromates of Lead, more or less basic. 

Chrome Orange .• ) 


Chrome Green : A preparation of Chrome Yellow and Prus- 
sian Blue. 

Cyanine Blue : Synonymous with Leitch's Blue. 

Emerald Green, 

Field 's Orange Vermilion : A specially levigated variety of 
Orange Vermilion. 

Jaune Brilliant : A variety of Naples Yellow prepared 
from Chrome Yellow and White Lead. 

Leach's Blue : A combination of Prussian Blue and Cobalt. 

Malachite Green : Native Carbonate of Copper. 

Orange Vermilion : Sulphide of Mercury. 

Prussian Blue : Ferrocyanide of Iron, the insoluble variety. 

Scarlet Vermilion : Sulphide of Mercury. 

Vermilion : A variety of Mercuric Sulphide. 


Carmine : \ 

Carmine Lake : v Lakes prepared from Cochineal. 

Crimson Lake : ) 

Dragon's Blood: The genuine Dragon's Blood, a resin, 

being exceedingly fugitive, an imitation ' pigment is 

now prepared from Burnt Sienna, Cochineal Lake, and 

Flake White : Basic Carbonate of Lead. 
Gallstone : The real Gallstone (from the bladders of oxen) 

being excessively fugitive, an imitation is prepared 

from Yellow Carmine. 
Gamboge : A preparation of the Gum Resin known under 

this name. 
Geranium Lake : An extremely fugitive Lake prepared 

from an artificial dye. 


Green Lake : A combination of Quercitron Lake and Prus- 
sian Blue. 
Hooker V Green : N'o. i ") Preparations of Prussian Blue and 
Hooker V Green : No, 2 \ Gamboge. 

Indigo : A blue extracted from the Indigo Plant. 
Intense Blue : An extract of Indigo. 
Italian Pink: A Lake obtained from Quercitron Bark. 
King's Yellow : Sulphide of Arsenic. 

,, * >- Aniline Lakes. Very fu2:itive. 

Mauve: ) ^ e> 

Neutral Tint : A combination of Indigo, Cochineal Lake, 
and Carbon Black. 

Olive Green : A mixture of Indian Yellow, Umber, and In- 

Payne'' s Gray : A mixture of Indigo, Cochineal Lake, and 
Carbon Black. 

PrussianGreen : A mixture of Gamboge and Prussian Blue. 

Pure Scarlet : Mercuric Iodide. 

Purple Lake : A purple modification of Crimson Lake. 

Rose Lake : A new color, similar in composition to Gera- 
nium Lake. 

Sap Green : A mixture of genuine Sap Green (a concreted 
vegetable juice) with Green Lake. 

Scarlet Lake : An intimate combination of Vermilion and 
Alizarin Crimson. 

Violet Carmine : A Lake obtained from the root of the 
Anchusa Tinctoria. 

JVarm Sepia: Sepia tinted with Cochineal Lake and 

Yellow Carmine: A concentrated Lake prepared from 
Quercitron Bark. 

Yellow Lake : An extract of Quercitron Bark. 

Yellow Madder : Synonymous with Yellow Carmine. 


The first advice to be given to a beginner who 
is purchasing his outfit of painting-materials is 
this : do not economize by buying a poor grade of 
colors because they are cheap. Exceptionally 
cheap colors, made by unknown firms, are sure 
to be inferior in quality, and imperfectly prepared. 
They are coarse, or gritty, or hard, or uneven, or 
wrong in some way, or they could not be sold for 
a song, because good materials and good workman- 
ship are necessary to the producing of good colors, 
and a manufacturer cannot put good materials and 
good workmanship into the making of his wares 
without charging a fair price for the finished arti- 
cle. It is difficult enough to learn to handle color 
when the paints are of the best quality, even in 
tone, finely ground, clear, and free from lumps and 
impurities ; but when the student has to contend 
not only with his own ignorance and clumsiness, 
but .with defects of material which would irritate 
a skilful artist, he has need of an exceptional 
amount of patience to enable him to persist in the 
effort to learn. 

The beginner, therefore, must be as careful 
to obtain standard colors as is the professional 
painter. There is a great difference in the price 
of individual colors made by the same manufac- 
turer, this difference being dependent upon the 
cost of the materials composing them, and upon 


the degree of expense incurred in their prepara- 
tion, all colors not being prepared in the same 
way. It is not necessary to lay in a stock of all 
the very high-priced colors, for only a few of them 
are really requisite to a suitable outfit. The most 
generally useful paints are mainly those of medium 

The water color box, or case, should never be 
bought already filled by the art dealer, because he 
has no knowledge whatever of the assortment of 
colors which any one individual student is likely 
to need ; and if a full box is selected at hazard, 
it will be sure to contain a number of paints, 
some of them costly, which the purchaser will 
have no occasion to use, and it will lack many 
which are absolutely necessary. The only way to 
be certain of securing a satisfactory stock, is to 
obtain the assistance of some good artist who is 
following the same line of work that the student 
wishes to pursue. No artist in these days ever 
makes any mystery of the colors he employs, for 
he recognizes that the worth of a picture does not 
lie in the use of any special pigment, the secret 
of which is to be jealously guarded, but in the 
amount of thought and skill which he puts into it, 
which are evidences of a power that only talent, 
conscientious study, and time can give. Nobody 
can steal an artist's experience away from him, 


and his list of colors is comparatively of no con 

After the student, therefore, has found out from 
an authoritative source the names of the paints 
which will be most useful to him, he should buy 
an empty color-box, and have it filled according to 
his own choice. It is not desirable to have a 
great number- of colors, for an over-full palette is 
a trouble and an expense rather than an advan- 
tage. The skill of an artist is not measured by 
the number of different pigments he uses, but 
by the ability which he shows in manipulating 
what he does employ. It is only the tyro who 
feels that he cannot accomplish anything unless 
he has the entire stock of the colorman to fall 
back upon. Experience will teach him that a few 
colors, well selected, will afford him quite as wide 
a field of variety as he can comfortably occupy, 
after he has learned their properties individually, 
and in the almost inexhaustible number of com- 
binations which are possible with them. The 
following list of twenty-six colors, is one which 
will be found of general use, and which will suffice 
to carry out all the instructions given in this book, 
with the exception of monochrome work in black- 
and-white, for which the paint called Lamp Black 
is necessary : — 




Rose Madder. 

Pale Cadmium. 

Light Red. 

Orange Cadmium, 

Indian Red. 

Indian Yellow. 


Yellow Ochre. 

Burnt Cqnnine. 

Emerald Green. 

Burnt Sienna. 

Hooker's Green No. 2, 

Brown Ochre. 


Raw Utnber. 

Prussian Blue. 

Burnt Utnber. 

French Blue. 

Vandyke Brown, 

New Blue. 

Brown Madder. 

Permanent Violet. 


Purple Madder. 

Chinese White. 

This list cannot be assumed to be final, in the 
present stage of color manufacture, but it is as 
satisfactory as can now be made, and will answer 
all practical purposes. It will be observed that 
it is not entirely composed of permanent colors, 
but this is because no adequate substitutes are 
yet available for the moderately permanent and 
fugitive colors included. Wherever it has been 
possible, durable, pigments have been chosen, 
and all those notoriously temporary have been 

There are no colors made which can vie in bril- 
liancy and purity with those seen in nature, and 
this lack will be felt most forcibly by the flower 
painter, who longs to reproduce the vivid tints of 
his models, but realizes that he can never hope 


to do more than approximate them. The closest 
approach to the dazzlingly clear and bright pinks, 
reds, and purples often s^n in flowers, is found in 
the aniline colors, and it is hardly surprising that 
some artists succumb to the temptation of using 
them, against a better knowledge. These colors 
are wonderfully attractive when first applied, but 
are consistently treacherous, if such a contradiction 
in terms is admissible ; and a picture painted with 
them is sure to go to destruction in a very short 
time. As there is a demand for them, they are 
supplied by the color-makers, but manufacturers 
do not guarantee them, and are perpetually seeking 
to discover permanent substitutes. 
//Water colors come in three forms, — in dry cakes, 
in china pans, and in metal tubes like oil colors. 
The dry cakes, although suitable for some purposes, 
are not desirable for the ordinary water colorist, 
as they are hard and brittle. They do not yield 
their color quickly nor lavishly enough for general 
work, and as they are easily broken, they are apt 
to crumble away and be wasted. With tube paints 
all these disadvantages are avoided, but tubes are 
bulky and heavy, and therefore awkward to care for 
and to carry in any number. The pan colors are 
the most satisfactory, for they are sufficiently moist 
to work easily, and in small enough compass to be 
little trouble. The half-pan size is recommended 


for the majority of colors, because the half -pans 
take up less room than the whole ones, and are re- 
newed oftener, and it is^pleasanter to use fresh 
color than that which has been open for some 
time. If there are one or two special colors which 
are consumed in larger quantity than the rest, these 
may be bought in whole pans. It is best to always 
use the Rose Madder and the Chinese White which 
come in tubes ; the Rose Madder because it is a 
gummy color that dries and hardens rapidly on ex- 
posure to the air, and is apt to become too solid 
in the pan ; the Chinese White because it is used 
very rarely, and must be perfectly soft and creamy 
when it is used. 

There are various styles and sizes of water color 
boxes made, those of japanned metal being the 
best. One should be chosen which is divided into 
compartments for whole pans, because two half- 
pans can be fitted into the compartment, and it is 
well to be able to carry whole pans upon occasion. 
The box should be large enough to hold all the 
colors comfortably, but no allowance need be made 
for the length of the brushes, because they ought 
never to be kept in the box, although box-makers 
usually provide a long division for them. This 
division may be occupied by the two tube colors, 
the sponge, the rubbers, and the penknife, if the 
box is large. The ordinary American box, which 



WmMMM^ ^ 

Box for Pans. 

is the least expensive of any, and will answer the 
purpose sufficiently well, is divided off by rigid 
metal partitions which simply serve to keep the 

pans from sliding 
about, and do not 
prevent them from 
falling out. Messrs. 
Winsor and Newton 
make a more costly 
box, in which each 
compartment is pro- 
vided with a little 
spring which grips 
the pan and holds it in piace even if the box be 
upset. The pan is removed by pressing back the 
spring. There are also water color boxes arranged 
for the accommodation of tube colors entirely, or 
of tube and pan colors both. 

After the box has been chosen and fitted with 
paints, the next thing for the beginner to do is 
to learn to distinguish the colors by name. This 
he cannot hope to do immediately, because to the 
inexperienced eye, the different depths of wash of 
the same paint seem to be made by different colors ; 
but the sooner he becomes acquainted with his 
palette, the sooner will he gain a sense of certainty 
in his work. For the last few years, Messrs. Win- 
sor and Newton have adopted the plan of pasting 



a slip of paper, beariijig the name of the color, di- 
rectly upon the bottom of the china pan which con- 
tains it. Formerly the name was placed only on 
the tin-foil wrapper, and when it was removed, con- 
fusion was sure to ensue. It is necessary, how- 
ever, to learn not only what paints are in the box, 

English Spring-fitted Box. 

but what each one is, without looking at the label. 
Of course the beginner must refer to the names 
at first, in order to become familiar with them, but 
he should learn as soon as possible to identify a 
color merely by its appearance. The process of 
memorizing will be made easier if the colors are 
kept in the same order, each one having its own 



Box for Tubes. 

special compartment where it is always to be found 
The chromatic succession is the best and sim- 

p 1 e s t arrange- 
ment to adopt. 
Beginning with 
the yellows, be- 
cause they are 
the lightest and 
most brilliant, 
they should be 
placed all to- 
gether, next to 
them coming 
the group of greens, then the blues, then the pur- 
ples, then the reds, and last the browns. 

The next point about which it is necessary to 
speak in relation to color, is that of cleanliness. 
Proper care of both box and paints cannot be too 
strongly insisted upon nor too conscientiously ob- 
served. The characteristic charm of water color 
work is its purity, freshness, and transparency. 
If it lack these qualities, it has no excuse for be- 
ing, because oils excel it in richness, and pastels in 
softness. When the box and paint-pans are cov- 
ered with streaks and drippings of different colors 
all run together in muddy confusion, this muddi- 
ness will contaminate the picture more or less. If 
a box is habitually dirty, and the paints are habit- 


ually stained with other colors, this evil state of 
things is to be ascribed to one of three causes : 
the owner knows nothing about water color paint- 
ing, or he is exceedingly lazy and careless, or he 
has the idea that a soiled and untidy box looks 
artistic. In any or all of these cases, he is in the 

Box for Pans and Tubes. 

wrong, and should hasten to put himselt in the right 
as soon as possible. It is true that some very good 
pictures have come out of very dirty boxes, but it 
was in spite, and not because, of the untidiness ; 
and the pictures would have been still better had 
the boxes been clean, because purity in a picture 
means purity in the color used for it, and color 


will not remain uncontaminated in a cardessly 
k(Tj)t box. The inside of the box and the surfaces 
upon which the color-mLxing is done, should be 
w.ishi'd perfectly clc*an, and wiped dry at the close 
of work, and even at intervals while work is going 
on, if niany colors are employed, and painting is 
continued for a long time. Color should never be 
vh.^:i;al over from one pan upon another. Each 
wuiety (>f paint should be kept free from other 
kutds so that when the student dips his brush into 
vV \\\\\ sup|H>sal to contain a certain color, he will 
vl»i WW that a>k>r in its integrity, free from all for- 

I l>c M»iicr tlK* onKlition of paints, the greater 

i'>v Ik'sIv vvtUt which they can be used: and 

ntvt.iv. tiKi<:v\{ tnv>st, t^^Mchors advise pupils to put 

I v \v .h.'j»s v»( waicj iittro each pan before begin- 

'*.:. ^ \>x>vx t hiN piaco.cti hcis^ its obvious advan- 

'.' ,v V i-v vv^KM lac ;>anit:^ are used every day it 

vv -v >M»H. W *KM thcv are used only occa- 

v-^ ■ V 'kvv^vc*. u»u aa\e t:rne to dry in the 

. V . V . . v^ V V ^ V r • ^ ^ r w rt ^1 c\ccsi>;\' elv makes them 

' ^- -v ■>- ... .,^.v. ...^^' " 'ut!!ps- which are diffi- 

^ ' ^ •• — _v : '•>• ^>.i!ic-t Kive been opened 

^^ ^ ^ ' '■> ^'.-^'-^ ^t nme, a drr:)p of 

' " ^ X - . -. >> ..-.^j %;• k:.'* m ket^ them 

^ ^ V . : ^ a .>:!><. •.innet::^issar7 

^^ .- "v .1 V !r^.>;. ^-.vaN-s- he kept 


tightly closed when it is not in use, to exclude 
dust and air. 

When paints have become so dry as to be like 
gravel, it is better to throw them away, for the 
work of attempting to restore them to proper con- 
dition again, will be more than they are worth, 
and is quite likely to prove futile. With the best 
care, a great deal of paint is wasted unavoidably. 
Much is washed out of the brushes and the box, 
and a certain amount always remains in the cor- 
ners of the pans and in the tubes. This must be 
accepted as one of the conditions of water color 
work, and the only way of making up for it is 
to be guiltless of any wanton waste, either by 
allowing paints to crack, or by letting them be- 
come so much soiled that the whole top has to be 
sponged away before it is possible to come to the 
actual tint. 

Every color has its own peculiar property of 
luminousness, flatness, transparence, atmosphere, 
or distance, and it is a large part of the work of 
an artist to learn these properties, and to make 
use of them in the proper way. The list of 
twenty-six paints which has been given, includes 
colors which represent all these qualities ; and this 
palette will serve for landscape and figure work as 
well as for flowers. While a list composed for any 
one alone of these branches of art, would contain 



some names of paints not mentioned in this one, 
all which are absolutely necessary for all-round use 
are put down. The preponderance of brilliant 
pigments is due to the fact that flowers cannot be 
painted without them ; and while subdued tones 
are easily made by combining bright colors, as 
red and blue to make gray, it is impossible to 
mix subdued colors and obtain thereby a bright 
one. The vivid colors practically include all the 
rest, and are indispensable, whether for use in a 
pure state or in combinations. 

If twenty-six colors seem too few to the begin- 
ner, who is, perhaps, acquainted with artists who 
have forty or more in their boxes, let him remem- 
ber that he does not yet understand the manage- 
ment and possibilities of even one color, and that 
twenty-six are quite enough to show him the tecb 
nique of washes and general handling. 



There are^ few persons who do not find the 
shop of a dealer in artists' materials an attractive 
place. The professional painter is interested in 
examining the thousand and one useful or useless 
inventions which are offered for his inspection, 
even if he has no occasion to buy any of them, 
and he enjoys looking over the stock and choosing 
at leisure what is suited to his own special needs. 
The art student is stimulated to fresh efforts by 
the sight of the piles of sketching-blocks, the array 



of paints, each individual one so neatly wrapped 
and labeled, the sheaves of brushes of all sizes 
^nd kinds, and the various other objects, of which 
he already knows the use, or hopes by and by to 
know it. The lay person, who wanders in acci- 
dentally, or accompanies some friend who has 
business there, feels that he is breathing the at- 
mosphere of art, and observes with keen interest 
the customers, some of whom display such extreme 
solicitude in making a choice among articles which 
look to the outsider precisely alike. He has the 
exciting consciousness that he may be gazing upon 
an angel unawares, — v that any one of these intent 
purchasers may be some noted artist whose name 
he has seen in the newspapers, and whose pictures 
he has viewed on gallery walls, — and he envies 
the art dealer his familiarity with these great 
personages, and his admittance, as it were, behind 
the scenes. 

Who that has ever been an art student, can for- 
get the feeling inspired by his very first outfit of 
materials, possessed while he was still ignorant 
of even the rudiments of art — the sense of eleva- 
tion given by the mere ownership of the blocks 
and boards and paints and brushes, all so new and 
fresh and technical-looking ? Perhaps such arti- 
cles have become things of daily and yearly com- 
monplace to him now, of no more thrilling interest 


than his dinner-plate or his gloves ; but there was 
a time when they were surrounded by a halo of 
exhilarating novelty, and were suggestive of all 
sorts of vague and exciting possibilities in the way 
of artistic achievement. The charm is a brief one, 
and, like some others, is experienced but once 
in a lifetime. The epoch soon arrives when the 
student discovers that the possession of an outfit 
of materials is the shortest and easiest step in an 
artist's career, and that there is no royal road to 
learnir where drawing and painting are concerned, 
any more than there is in other departments of 
knowledge. He finds out that the possibilities 
of his materials, as he develops them, are not 
always attractive ; that when he puts that fair, 
clean paper and those tempting-looking paints to 
actual use, their romantic suggestions vanish be- 
fore the positive result. This is the really trying 
stage in art work, for there is an even chance that 
the novice will lose patience and courage, and 
abandon the idea of learning. If he persists in 
spite of his disillusionment, he gains his second 
wind, so to speak, and before long begins to see 
that he is really making some progress; slow, to 
be sure, but definite and inspiriting. 

The question of materials is a wide one. It is 
possible to spend an immense amount of money 
upon them unnecessarily, and it is equally possi- 



ble to economize so strictly that one's work is 
hampered and limited. The theory that genuine 
talent can produce satisfactory work without proper 
means, is false. An artist requires to have the 
right tools for the pursuit of his calling, just as an 
artisan does, and must have them if he is to 
achieve anything valuable. Of course it will not 
do for an inexperienced person to lay in his stock 
of materials without first having competent advice 
about the matter, for if he goes into an artists* 
supply shop and buys at random whatever he 
fancies it would be desirable to have, he is certain 
to waste a great deal of money, and to come away 
without some things which are absolutely neces- 
sary. On general principles, he should provide 
himself with everything found to be really requi- 
site, but buy nothing of which he does not seriously 
feci the lack. 

It is well to learn to work with a comparatively 
small equipment, because there may be occasion 
to carry and use the outfit while traveling, and 
then the advisability of confining the material 
furnishings within a portable compass, will be 
strongly felt. The decision as to what is neces- 
sary and what is not, must be made with judg- 
ment, however, and nothing must be omitted that 
is essential to convenience and the production of 
good work. 


As has been already said in the chapter devoted 
to Colors, the advice of some one who understands 
such affairs should be obtained before any outlay 
is made. A student who intends to begin work 
with any special teacher, will naturally seek that 
teacher^s counsel, and buy whatever materials he 
recommends, for every artist has his own peculiar 
preferences in the matter of paints, brushes, paper, 
and accessories, and prescribes for the use of his 
pupils what he himself has found satisfactory ; 
but a student who means to work by himself, with 
only the aid of a text-book, must rely upon that 
for all necessary information, and be guided by 
what it says. 

It should be borne in mind that the study of 
art from text-books alone is always more difficult 
and tedious than the same course of instruction 
carried on with a teacher, and requires more 
patience and perseverance. The stimulus afforded 
by frequent intercourse with a man or woman 
who has obtained a mastery over difficulties with 
which the student is just beginning to contend, 
is of much help, and the personality of a teacher 
also counts for a great deal. There is the addi- 
tional advantage of having advice upon special 
questions which arise in the course of drawing 
or painting, and of receiving a direct criticism of 
the work after it is finished. The student who 


acquires his instruction from a book, must be his 
own critic, and the benefit he derives from what 
he reads will be determined by the degree of care 
with which he follows out, with mind and hand, 
the ideas presented to him. 

The subject of Colors has already been treated 
at length in the previous chapter, and need not be 
again brought forward. It being taken for granted 
that the student has provided himself with the 
twenty-six paints recommended, and with a suit- 
able box in which to keep them, the matter of 
brushes next arises for consideration, and* simple 
as it seems, it is capable of great complication, for 
there is an infinite variety of brushes of different 
sizes, different shapes, and different kinds of hair. 
Colors and brushes are the two really expensive 
items in the outfit of a water colorist, for they are 
not only costly at the beginning, but have to be 
renewed- with greater or less frequency. There is 
no economy in buying a poor brush, or, indeed, in 
buying poor art materials of any kind. The real 
economy lies in having all essential articles of a 
standard quality, and taking so good care of them 
that they will last for a long time. As far as 
brushes are concerned, although they are rather 
high-priced in the first place, that is not of much 
importance if they are so well treated that they 
can be used until they are really worn to such 


a degree as to be unserviceable. Two brushes, 
carefully kept, will last for several months, even 
if employed daily ; but they can be ruined in two 
days by ignorance or negligence. Novices are to 
be excused, if they have never been told how 
brushes should be treated ; or, rather, how they 
should not be treated ; but there are persons who 
have had experience enough to teach them better, 
who cannot handle a brush once without destroy- 
ing its delicacy. 

A brush should never be permitted to rest upon 
its tip, either in or out of water, for the point or 
edge is thereby destroyed at once, and when that 
is gone, the brush is no longer a sensitive instru- 
ment, obedient to the hand, but is clumsy in its 
action. It should never remain in water for any 
length of time, as the hairs become loosened and 
injured in quality. It should never be carried in 
a box, nor kept in any position where the tip is 
likely to be pressed against anything. The point 
or edge should come in contact with nothing ex- 
cept paint and paper, and that only while 4t is in 
use. In taking paint out of the pans, the brush 
should never be pushed forward into them, but 
should be placed in the middle and drawn back- 
ward out of them. In short, the tendency of the 
hairs to come together to a point, should always 
be encouraged by every possible means. After 


the brush has been used, all the color should be 
washed out in clean water, the brush should be 
wiped with a cloth, and the hairs brought to a 
point, in which shape it should be ajlowed to dry. 
The best way to keep brushes when they are out 
of use, is to stand them on the end of the handle 
in a vase or jar deep enough to hold them in an 
upright position. In any place where moths pre- 
vail, it is necessary to keep a constant surveillance 
over brushes, as they are extremely Jiable to dam- 
age from these pests. 

Water color brushes are made of camel's hair, 
red sable, and brown sable. The camel's-hair 
brushes, which are by far the cheapest, are not 
fit for anything excepting play painting, and should 
never be bought by anybody preparing for earnest 
work, as they are soft and characterless, lack body 
and spring, and cannot be prevented from spread- 
ing at the tip when in use. The brown sable 
brushes are the most expensive, and it is optional 
with the student whether he will select those, or 
choose the somewhat less costly brushes made of 
red sable, which are substantial, serviceable, and 
will answer every purpose. For Flower, Fruit, 
and Still Life work, two large, round ones will be 
sufficient. For Figures, a small round one will be 
required in addition to these. This set of three 
red sable brushes will also answer for Marines 



and Landscapes, but for the last-named class of 
sketches, an ordinary flat bristle brush of medium 
size, such as is made for the use of oil painters. 

I i'l 

ii' I 

Red Sable Brushes. 


will al5iO he .^trrr-zxeahle, Taese bristle brushes 
C6Ht 'j^; Iittie and recmre no special care. 

Pict;,rfr^ are given which, show the kind of 
fcruihe'^ rer^aireri, and their actual siz^ Brushes 
au'e n:imr>ererf dinterently in England and America, 
air*d those illu-^trated are marked according to the 
Kf»^li.%h 5*tyle, The small Number Two, large 
Snru\jCt Two, and large X amber Four form a 
<^atisfactory trio, but if the student is disposed to 
be vrlf'indulgent in the matter of expense, he may 
j*uh?*titute large Number SL\ for large Number 

BriinhcH ought invariably to be carefully ex- 
Jimirif'd by the intending purchaser before they 
arc \r,iu\ fr^r, to make sure that thqjr^are in per- 
frct condition. Dealers in art materials always 
allow ('(iHtomers to make their own selection from 
the Mlock of brushes, and usually keep a cup of 
Wiit(«r at hand so that they may be tested, if that 
in (k'sired. In order to properly test a sable 
briish, it should be held in water until it is satu- 
rated, and then withdrawn. If, on being lightly 
Hnio(»lhed to a point with the fingers, it splits, 
looks blunt, or seems irregular, or if it shows broken 
hairs, or hairs which have a tendency to separate 
from the body of the brush, it should be rejected. 
If, on the contrary, it is full and solid at the top 
uiul in the middle, and tapers quickly to a fine, 


symmetrical point, with no straggling hairs, it is 

The idea of using so large brushes may startle 
the student, and possibly he will privately resolve 
to begin work with the little one, and wait until 
later to adopt the more imposing sizes. In this 
case he will be altogether wrong. The little 
brush is meant only for occasional use, such as 
painting the features, hands and feet of very small 
figures, or adding foreground and foliage details in 

Bristle Brush. 

little landscapes. The bulk of the work is done 
with the large brushes ; and if they are cared for 
with the solicitude that they deserve, they will 
be found susceptible of the most delicate manipu- 
lation. There are several conclusive reasons for 
employing large brushes instead of small ones. 
They have more spring ; they usually possess a 
better point ; the flow of color is smoother and 
more continuous ; a greater amount of ground can 
be covered at a time, thus increasing evenness of 
tint ; and a firm, bold method of painting is ac- 



quired that can never be attained by the use of 
small brushes, which limit the power of expres- 
sion and induce a cramped style. 

Before leaving the subject of brushes, it may be 
well to say that every artist does not lay such 
stress upon their care. An art- 
ist is to be encountered, now 
and then, who puts his brush 
in his mouth, and even bites it 
— not the handle, which is of 
no consequence, but the hair. 
Such examples to the contrary 
notwithstanding, universal expe- 
rience has proved that however 
well a man can work with poor 
tools, he can work still better 
with good ones. That a person 
who is in a position to know 
what is right, persists in a care- 
less and destructive act, is not 
to be taken as a proof that the 
act is advisable. It is no extra 
trouble to take the simple precautions advised, 
because after the habit of care is once formed, 
it becomes second nature, and is obeyed uncon- 
sciously. The only real difficulty with regard to 
the safety of brushes is that experienced in trans- 
porting them, and this is overcome by carrying 

Brush Case. 


them in a japanned case made for the purpose, 
which has a slide provided with elastic straps. 
These hold the brushes so that they cannot slip 
against the end of the case. A flat, home-made 
holder, stiffened with pasteboard and provided 
with straps in the same way, will answer equally 

Colors and brushes being decided upon, the next 
question of importance is that of paper. The only 
kind that will take water color well, is that which 
is made expressly for it, but there are many varie- 
ties, differing in weight, thickness, and surface. 
The Whatman papers are generally recognized as 
the standard, and are widely used. They are to 
be obtained in smooth, medium, and rough qualities. 
The very srxiooth kind is what is known as hot- 
pressed paper. It has a glassy surface, and should 
be avoided for the sort of work of which this book 
treats. It is suitable for illuminating, fine design- 
ing, and similar purposes where very little color, 
very little moisture, and very small touches are 
employed, but it does not receive broad washes 
well. There is also a smooth, cold-pressed paper, 
which the student may use for any very small and 
detailed work that he chooses to do when he has 
become experienced, but it is not good for general 
painting. The surface of the medium paper has 
a moderate " tooth," as the roughness is termed. 


while the rough kind is, as its name indicates, very 
coarse and uneven. For a beginner, the medium 
paper is the best, because it takes color well and 
is not expensive. Later on, when he makes fewer 
mistakes and has learned to control the flow of his 
color, he will often prefer the effect given by the 
rougher surface. 

Water color paper may be obtained in separate 
sheets, or made up into blocks of different sizes. 
For his earlier efforts, such as trying his colors, 
making color-washes, plain and graded, and paint- 
ing small copies for practice, the student will do 
well to work upon a block of dimensions large 
enough not to limit him, and small enough for it 
to be easily handled. Eleven or twelve inches by 
fifteen is a good size. Paper in the form of blocks 
or pads, affords a solid, substantial surface for 
painting, and is kept in place, and even stretched 
to a certain extent, by the binding around the 
edge. Each sheet should be removed only after 
the work upon it is dry. If it be taken off the 
pad while the paint is wet, especially if the paper 
has " buckled," as it is called, that is, if it has 
swelled and wrinkled under the action of moisture, 
the water, in evaporating, will cause it to warp ; 
while if it is left on the block, the grip of the 
binding around the edge will pull it tight and 
smooth as it shrinks in drying. There is little 


satisfaction in working on loose pieces of paper, 
because of this buckling, warping tendency. The 
thinner the paper, the more quickly and strongly is 
it thus affected. If water color paper is bought in 
separate sheets, before it is used it should be 
stretched on a wooden frame, over which heavy 
muslin is tightly drawn and tacked, or on a draw- 
ing-board, and should not be cut off until the paint- 
ing is finished. As stretching paper takes a little 
time and trouble, it is not worth while to do it for 
preliminary studies, for which the block will answer 
equally well ; but for work of any importance, 
heavy paper, well stretched, affords, with one ex- 
ception, the most pleasing and manageable surface, 
and gives the best results. 

As there are doubtless persons who do not know 
how to stretch paper, an explanation of the process 
may be desirable. If the paper is to be stretched 
upon a drawing-board, the size of the paper need 
not be prescribed, except that it must not be more 
than half an inch larger than the board all around. 
If it is that much larger, the extra half an inch 
serves to hold the paste, and is turned over the 
edge of the board and fastened there, instead of 
on the face. If it is smaller, it is fastened down 
to the surface. The piece of paper is first laid flat 
on the board, with the right side upward, and all 
the edges are turned down about half an inch, still 


on the right side, with a sharp fold. The entire 
sheet is then thoroughly dampened, so that it 
swells and puffs up, but it must not be so over- 
charged with water that it loses its consistency 
and pulls apart. While it is wet, the turned-down 
edges are covered with paste and bent back against 
the board, the paper then being pressed flat all 
over with a moist sponge. If the paste holds, as 
it should, the sheet will be perfectly smooth and 
tight when it is dry. When a frame is used in- 
stead of a drawing-board, the paper is always left 
large enough to overlap half an inch, that the past- 
ing may be done on the edges of the frame instead 
of on the surface. 

The right side of a sheet of paper may be ascer- 
tained by holding it up against the light and look- 
ing at the water-mark. The side upon which the 
maker*s name can be read properly is the right 
side. It should be mentioned that paper cannot 
be stretched upon an oiled board, because the paste 
will not adhere to the smooth surface. If the 
board is rubbed with sandpaper, so that it is some- 
what roughened, this obstacle is overcome. 

In speaking of the value of heavy paper well 
stretched, it was recommended as being the most 
convenient and giving the best results, with one 
exception. This exception is made in favor of 
what is called water color board, which consists of 


water color paper smoothly mounted on very heavy 
white pasteboard. This may be obtained already 
prepared, in the usual varieties, at any art material 
shop. It comes in pieces twenty-two inches wide 
and thirty inches long, but is easily divided with a 
sharp knife into portions of the required size. If 
the student prefer, he can choose sheet paper and 
have it mounted to order in the same way ; indeed, 
he must do this if he wishes to use a piece of 
board more than thirty inches long, for it is only 
sheet paper that comes in the extra large sizes. 
It IS not advisable for a painter to mount his own 
paper, because he cannot do it so well as it is done 
by manufacturers, who have all the mechanical ap- 
purtenances for mounting paper properly, including 
large presses in which to dry it under immense 
weight. Moreover, the paper and pasteboard, if 
bought separately, cost almost or quite as much as 
the prepared board. 

Water color board affords by far the most satis- 
factory surface upon which to work, for it never 
buckles, puffs, nor wrinkles, as even stretched paper 
does to a certain extent, and it therefore takes the 
color-washes with more exactitude and evenness. 
When the surface upon which paint is being 
washed does not remain flat, but is expanded by 
the water so as to form alternate swellings and 
depressions, the color is very apt to settle in the 


hollows, with the result that when the paper is 
dry, the tint is not smooth and even, but is full 
of streaks and inequalities. The student is not 
recommended to use water color board at first, be- 
cause, in the beginning of his work, he will spoil a 
great deal of paper, — that is a necessary part of 
his experience, — and the board, although not par- 
ticularly costly, is too expensive to be wasted. 
After he has learned to manage color, and is sure 
that he is able to paint a fairly good copy of an 
art lithograph, or an attractive bit from nature, he 
will do well to adopt water color board entirely for 
his work. 

For transient purposes, such as color-washing 
and small copying done simply for practice, the 
question of the quality of the paper is of no con- 
sequence ; but paper that is to be used for per- 
manent work, should be carefully chosen. Some 
sort of dressing or size always enters into the 
composition of water color paper, and in some 
makes, the dressing employed causes the paper to 
become discolored in course of time, and to turn 
yellow or brown, which is, of course, very undesi- 

It sometimes happens that a person beginning 
water color work has a quantity of ordinary draw- 
ing paper on hand, and fancies that it will answer 
for his first experiments with color.- In this he 


mistakes, for drawing paper is made expressly for 
perfectly dry use, such as pencil, crayon, chalk 
and charcoal work, and is of a. spongy and absorb- 
ent quality that renders it unfit to take wet color 
properly. Water color paper should be chosen 
for water color work, drawing paper being reserved 
for the pencil sketching that it is always well to 
carry on in connection with painting. 

The additional materials necessary are not 
many, bulky, nor costly. As the drawing of a 
preliminary pencil outline is invariably the first 
step in making a water color picture, two lead- 
pencils will be required. It is a good plan to buy 
the best grade for art work, and to reserve them 
for that alone. They should be kept sharpened 
to a fine point, and should be discarded when they 
grow short, for nobody can draw freely and boldly 
with a short pencil. A decidedly hard quality, 
three H or four H, is required for Flower and Still 
Life outlines, and for indicating features and 
other small details of little Figures and Animals ; 
but for general Figure work, and for blocking in 
Landscapes and Marines, a softer pencil is better, 
although it must not be smutty. An H will 
answer the purpose very well. 

Regular drawing pencils are recommended in- 
stead of the cheaper, ordinary pencils, because the 
former are particularly smooth and even in qual- 


ity, and it is possible to know beforehand just 
what sort of line each one will make, if it is 
properly sharpened. Cheap pencils, which are 
quite good enough for writing and business pur- 
poses, are often gritty, and the lead is sometimes 
hard and sometimes soft in the same individual. 
There should be no uncertainty when drawing for 
painting is in question, therefore these are to be 

Erasers are, of course, needed, and they must 
not be hard ones, for in that case they would 
abrade the surface of the paper and make a flaw 
that would be obvious when color was washed 
over it. A piece of pure, black, india rubber, soft 
and pliable, is wanted for rubbing out small lead 
marks, and cleaning narrow spaces where it is not 
desirable to erase the surrounding lines. In addi- 
tion to this, it is best to have a piece of sponge rub- 
ber, that is, rubber so treated that it is spongy 
and porous. This kind of eraser, which is exceed- 
ingly soft, may be rubbed over the face of a 
water color painting without causing any injury, 
provided that the color is dry ; and it is useful 
when much lead is to be taken off at a time, and 
for removing any dinginess of appearance occa- 
sioned by pencil lines which show after the pic- 
ture is finished. It always leaves crumbs upon the 
paper, which should be blown or brushed away. 


A china slab, with depressions in it for holding 
color, is the next requisite. Students sometimes 
try to dispense with this, using the flat wing of 
the water color box and the inside of the cover, for 
the purpose ; but a little color soon dries on a flat 
surface, where it is thinly spread out, and if a 
larger quantity is prepared, it runs off. The inside 
of the cover has not divisions enough, as a rule, 
and they are usually too broad and shallow, so 
that color placed in one division is apt to run over 

Color Slab. 

into the next, and mingle with what is there. 
There are several kinds of slabs, some with two, 
some with four, and some with six slanting com- 
partments, while others have little hemispherical 
wells. These wells are hardly large enough and 
hardly far enough apart to hold the amount of wet 
color desirable for general use, therefore the slant- 
ing slabs are better ; one jjaving six divisions will 
be found convenient. 

A glass for water will be needed, but an ordi- 
nary large tumbler will serve as well as a regular 


water colorists glass, if the tumbler is anooth on 
the inside. Settlings of paint collect in any irreg- 
ularities, and are diiiicult to remove. The glasses 
which are made expressly for water color work are 
of the same size all the way do\%-n, and are shorter 
than their diameter, so that the\- do not upset 
easily. They are provided with a lip on one side 
or both sides. 

A sponge should be added to the outfit ; a 
sponge that, before it is wet, is no larger than a 
small walnut. It must be very fine and soft, free 
from every trace of roughness, and of a triangular 
shape, so that it comes to a sharp point. Sponges 
exactly suited for the purpose are not easily found, 
and as a rule, the only way to secure one is to go 
to a pharmacy and look over the stock of eye- 
sponges, as they are designated. When a desi- 
rable one is obtained, it should be saved for delicate 
uses, such as wiping away small mistakes, taking 
out high lights, and removing extra color from the 
paper. A coarser, larger sponge will answer for 
washing the paint-box and slab — hard service that 
would soon spoil the finer one. Both sponges 
must, of course,, be washed very often, paint never 
])cing allowed to remajp in them, but they must 
be i)erfectly free from any vestige of soap or oil. 
A tiny fragment of sponge held firmly in the tip 
of a crayon holder is convenient for some purposes. 



The next item on the list is a remarkable one, 
in that it costs absolutely nothing. It is a supply 
of large, clean, white rags, the older 
the better, so long as they are not 
full of holes. Pieces of an old 
sheet or of worn-out cotton under- 
clothing, not starched, are exactly 
what is required. After muslin or 
cambric has been washed a great 
many times, it loses all traces of 
the dressing that was employed in 
its manufacture, and becomes soft 
and absorbent. New cotton cloth, 
even cheese-cloth, does not take up 
water instantaneously ; and a water 
colorist who keeps in his lap a new 
rag upon which to wipe the super- 
fluous moisture from his brushes, 
will be reasonably sure to find that 
the water has run off upon his 
garments instead of soaking into 
the paint cloth. 

Whether water color painting 
shall be done on an easel or an 
ordinary table, is decided entirely 
by convenience, habit, and per- 
sonal fancy. For Flower painting, a table or 
other horizontal surface is, of course, required. 



upon which the flowers may be arranged, and a 
place must always be provided for the color box, 
water glass, and other utensils ; but the question 
of what shall hold the block or drawing-board is 
immaterial. In out-of-door work, 
ail easel is generally employed, 
although the work may be held 
in the lap instead. If an 
easel is preferred, it is well 
to choose a small, light one 
that may be folded into a 
compact, portable shape. 
This will do for either 
studio or open-air 
work, as water color 
pictures do not re- 
quire the large, 
substantial easels 
which are needed 
for the support 
of heavy oil can- 
Some sheets of white blotting-paper and a sharp 
■penknife complete the list of materials. The blot- 
ting-paper is for occasional use in taking up paint, 
when too much has been put upon the paper. The 
knife is for sharpening pencils, and should be 
exercised frequently and conscientiously. Pencils 


must always be sharp, and a knife must, therefore, 
always be at hand. A very small one that can be 
kept in the water color box, and is never separated 
from the rest of the outfit, is a very desirable 
institution ; for an ordinary pocket-knife, that is 
used on all occasions and in all places, is often 
missing when it is most urgently needed. 

A pair of scissors can hardly be said to belong 
properly to a stock of water color materials, but 
they will be found a great convenience in many 

As regards the general conditions of work, too 
much insistence cannot be laid upon the impor- 
tance of a good light. A north light is, of course, 
best, because it suffers the least change during 
the day ; but that cannot always be obtained by the 
amateur, who has no apartment specially set aside 
for painting, and is compelled to work in any room 
that happens to be free for the purpose. What- 
ever light he has, it should be clear and unob- 
structed, and he should never try to work in a 
cross light. If the room has windows on differ- 
ent sides, all except those on the preferred side 
should be darkened. The direct rays of the sun 
must not fall upon the paper, the study that is 
being copied, nor, generally speaking, upon the 
model or object that is being painted. There are 
pictures into which sunlight enters, it is true, but 


they are not painted by amateurs nor beginners. 
The student would better reserve his attempts at 
sunlight effects for out-of-door work. 

If the only light available is a southern one, all 
sunshine, it may be modified by lowering the win- 
dow-shade, if it is made of dead-white hoUand, or 
by stretching a breadth of white cotton across the 
sash. This will make a diffused light by which 
it is not easy to work, but which is infinitely better 
than direct sunlight. 

On very dark, cloudy days it is advisable not 
to work at all, as no clear view of colors and mod- 
eling can be obtained. Any attempt to paint at 
night is likewise quite useless, unless simple black- 
and-white sketches are made, for the actual nature 
of colors cannot be discerned by artificial light. 
If the student is anxious to work in the evening, 
he would better devote that time to the education 
of his sense of form, by means of quick sketch- 
ing in pencil, pen-and-ink, or black paint. Good 
draughtsmanship produces in the artist a sense of 
power that nothing else can give, and it is some- 
thing that should be assiduously cultivated. 

Whatever the student is doing, — whether he is 
sketching or painting, copying or working from 
nature, — he should allow himself sufficient space 
so that his movements will not be cramped ; and 
above all things, he should not hurry. Rapid work 



is often good, but work done in haste never is. 
This may seem at first to be a distinction without 
a difference, but the difference is there, and is a 
very palpable one. An artist may paint rapidly, 
not because he has any anxiety to get through the 
work, but because his hand and eye and brain 
have been so accurately trained that they know 
at once exactly what is to be done, and perform 
their duty perfectly without an instant's hesita- 
tion. However speedily he works, speed is not the 
end he has in view ; he is solely intent on making 
a good picture. On the contrary, to paint in a 
hurry is to put the idea of haste before that of ar- 
tistic excellence. When the chief aim is to finish 
the work in hand, sufficient attention is not devoted 
to the means and methods employed. The man 
who paints carefully may work faster than the man 
who paints in haste, but nevertheless, the careful 
man does not hurry. 

There is no advantage in working all the time, 
nor when very tired. The mind, eye, and hand 
need a respite occasionally, and will work the bet- 
ter for it. When the artistic perceptions have once 
been awakened, the process of learning goes on 
unconsciously. Even while the student is busied 
about other occupations, he involuntarily notes 
many truths of form and color, and effects of light 
and shade, and stores the memory of them away in 



his mind without realizing it. This unconscious 
self-education provides him with some of the most 
important knowledge he possesses, and its value 
should never be overlooked. 



There is no branch of art in which it is pos- 
sible to do good work without study and experi- 
ence; but there is a great difference in difficulty 
between various branches, and the amateur is, as 
a rule, more successful in Flower, Fruit, and Still 
Life painting than in anything else, because these 
are the simplest, and require the least amount of 
knowledge. Of the three, Flower painting is the 
most difficult, because flowers alter more or less 
all the time that they are being painted, shift- 
ing their position, changing color, opening, clos- 
ing, or wilting ; while many kinds of fruit, and all 
still life remain exactly the same. By still life 
are meant glass, pottery, bric-a-brac, and other 


manufactured articles. Vegetables and nuts may 
be considered as belonging to the same class as 
fruit, while fish and game are animals. Flowers 
are very frequently combined, in pictures, with 
still life and drapery, and the flower painter must, 
therefore, know how to paint the latter two, which 
will seem comparatively simple to him after he 
understands the former. 

As was said in the Introduction, the instruction 
given here will be for painting flowers by means 
of moderately wet washes placed upon dry paper ; 
a method that gives a more realistic, crisp effect 
than that of painting upon a continuously wet sur- 
face. The originals of all the little flower head- 
ings and tail-pieces in this book were painted upon 
dry paper. 

In order to paint anything well, the artist must 
have a natural interest in that particular thing, 
and an appreciative sense of its characteristics. 
A man who really cares for flowers, and has ob- 
served them for their own sake, will paint them 
much better than a man who is indifferent to them. 
If, as was the case with Peter Bell, the Potter, — 

** A primrose by the river's brim 
A yellow primrose is to him, 
And it is nothing more," 

he will miss its individuality altogether, and there- 
fore be unable to paint it properly. Flowers are as 


individual as are human beings and animals. Each 
variety has its own peculiarities of growth, color, 
texture, form, and habit, and all such peculiarities 
require to be taken into consideration in painting. 
An understanding of these matters will not only 
enable an artist to paint flowers more sympatheti- 
cally, but will prevent him from committing many 
solecisms. Probably there is no profession, busi- 
ness, or trade, of the real complexities of which 
any outsider has a true appreciation. It is like 
the smooth movement of well-ordered machinery, 
which seems simple and effortless to the observer, 
who has no inkling of the infinite number of 
screws, wheels, cogs, bands, rods, and pivots which 
hold it together and make it run perfectly. Practi- 
cal experiment soon proves that there is more in 
all kinds of work than meets the eye. Even in 
Flower painting, which is generally acknowledged 
to be simpler than Figure, Animal, or Landscape 
painting, there is a great deal to be learned besides 
the mere technique of clear color-washes. Even 
when the student has the living flower before his 
eyes, he must have also a mental appreciation of 
its texture and peculiarities. If he sees a shining 
high light, such as appears in a poppy, he must be 
able to account for it to himself by his knowl- 
edge of the flower's characteristically thin and 
silky texture. A poppy petal is more fragile and 


delicate than a butterfly's wing, and takes the 
light in quite a different way from the petal of a 
pansy, for example, which is velvety, and com- 
paratively thick. If the student confined himself 
to roses alone, he would have a great deal to learn 
as to their diversity of form and habit. In some 
varieties, the thorns are red, in others brown, in 
others green. In some cases they bend down- 
ward toward the root, in others the point is 
directed upward toward the flower. The Bride 
rose, and also the Bridesmaid, have long, pointed 
buds, and the petals recurve very little, while the 
foliage has a dull surface. The flower of the 
Pearl of the Garden, on the contrary, is short, 
round, and compact, the outer petals curve some- 
what, and the leaves are peculiarly waxy, having 
usually red stems. The petals of La France roses 
curl back so excessively that the flower, when 
open, is all acute angles. It is unnecessary to 
give an exhaustive list of the different sorts of 
roses and their special traits, because the pupil 
ought to study out this knowledge for himself. 
The names cited have only been mentioned as 
characteristic examples. 

Some sorts of flowers are much more difficult 
to paint than others. Roses are by many persons 
believed to offer more obstacles to successful work 
than anything else, but they are no more difficult 


than double violets, carnations, trumpet daffodils 
or chrysanthemums, while orchids and spotted 
lilies, such as the Roseum and Rubrum, are much 
more troublesome. The beginner should, of course, 
choose for his model something comparatively easy 
to paint, in making his first attempt from nature, 
and among such simpler flowers may be reckoned 
pansies, white narcissus, Easter lilies, tulips, sweet 
peas, wild roses, and single hollyhocks. All small 
flowers growing in multitudinous clusters, like 
lilacs, heliotrope, hydrangea, and snowballs (Guel- 
der rose), are hard to manage, and should only be 
attempted by students who have had experience 
with less complex subjects. 

Yellow and pink flowers require more practice 
than those of other tints ; not because these flowers 
are in themselves so different, but because it hap- 
pens that yellow and pink pigments are composed 
of materials which are less easily controlled than 
those which enter into the make-up of other colors. 
Both yellow and pink are peculiarly sensitive, and 
will bear no bungling treatment, becoming muddy 
at once under unaccustomed hands. Greens are 
likewise troublesome, but blues, purples, and reds 
are comparatively easy to manage, as is white also, 
where no body color is employed ; for the un- 
touched paper itself supplies the white, and only 
the shadows, reflections, and yellow lights shining 
through, are to be painted. 


It is taken for granted that the pupil has copied 
many good flower studies before trying to work 
from nature, and that he has a fair understanding 
of floral drawing and anatomy. He should, how- 
ever, by no means assume that his copying days 
are over when once he begins to work from real 
flowers ; because if he wants to overcome difficul- 
ties in the easiest way, he will always, before at- 
tempting to paint a new flower from nature, find 
a good water color facsimile of it and copy that. 
Copying is, no doubt, less interesting than study 
from nature, but it is exceedingly helpful. 

In making the preliminary pencil sketch of a 
flower subject, care should be taken to preserve 
the individuality of the separate flowers. If the 
model is a spray of wild roses, for example, each 
petal should be drawn by itself, instead of the gen- 
eral outline of the flower being drawn, and after- 
ward divided off into petals. It is also necessary 
to accurately define the limits of the middle. In 
all flowers, the centre is the important point, as 
far as construction is concerned. It is what holds 
everything together and gives oneness, even in 
monopetalous flowers ; and to be vague and inde- 
finite there, is to weaken the entire effect, no mat- 
ter how well the coloring and general appearance 
may be rendered. The stamens and pistil are ob- 
vious in the middle of many flowers, but even 


where they do not show, as in a very double chrys- 
anthemum, there is an evident centripetal ten- 
dency, and the shadows are sharper and deeper in 
the middle than elsewhere. In a pansy, there are 
two little -white, yellow, or greenish velvety bars, 
which form an angle at the centre, and which 
should never be ignored in a picture, because they 
are characteristic of the flower. It is usually best 
to begin sketching a flower in the middle, as that 
is the really important part, from an anatomical 
point of view, and the starting-point from which 
the flower radiates and expands. Moreover, if any 
mistake is afterward made, it will involve altera- 
tion only of the particular place where the error 
occurs ; whereas, if the sketch is begun at the out- 
side and carried inward, one change will be ex- 
tremely apt to necessitate others, and possibly the 
whole drawing will have to be erased and made 
afresh, which is a waste of time and energy. The 
sketch should be very light and delicate, consisting 
of a single thin outline. Double and triple lines 
are to be avoided. If corrections are necessary, all 
false marks should be carefully erased and every 
trace of them removed. It should be recollected 
that no heaviness of outline is to be tolerated, 
and that it is quite as bad to press the point of 
the pencil into the surface of the paper, so that it 
leaves a sharp groove, as it is to make a strong 


black mark ; for the groove will show as a distinct 
line in the picture, and nothing can obliterate it. 
The real purpose of the outline is merely to guide 
the brush. After a sufficient number of color- 
washes have been put in to place the anatomy of 
the subject beyond chance of confusion, the paint- 
ing should be allowed to become perfectly dry, and 
all the lead-pencillings should be taken out with 
a sponge rubber. The custom of blocking in the 
general outlines before perfecting the drawing, as 
is done in most other branches of art, must here 
be abandoned, because the paper must be kept as 
free as possible from graphite. The utmost en- 
deavor should be made to place no unnecessary 
mark upon the surface, and to have the drawing 
exact from the beginning. 

Instead of choosing a large cluster of flowers 
and leaves for his model in his first attempt at 
working from nature, the student would better 
take one detached flower or leaf and devote his at- 
tention to that, making a simple study of color and 
form, instead of attempting to produce a complete 
picture. Leaves will be found to be much more 
difficult than flowers, and will require greater appli- 
cation and knowledge, and are therefore frequently 
to be taken for practice. Few flower pictures can 
be made without the introduction of leaves, and 
these ought to be as skilfully painted as the flow- 


ers themselves, else they are a blemish, and lower 
the artistic value of the entire work. 

Only flowers in good condition should be se- 
lected. Those which have begun to wither, or are 
defective, are not desirable. Moreover, unless 
flowers are freshly cut, they are liable to fade at 
any moment, and leave the student at a loss. It 
often happens that the representation of one worm- 
eaten leaf or petal has a good effect, but it should 
always be subordinate, and not be made a princi- 
pal feature in the picture. Fresh flowers, fine in 
form and color, are required, if satisfactory work 
is to be done, and they should be kept in as good 
condition as possible, by frequent spraying with 
cold water. An atomizer may be employed for 
this purpose, or water may be sprinkled on them 
from a sponge. When a detached bunch of flowers 
is being painted, without foreground or still life, 
the cluster is, of course, supported by placing the 
stems in a jar or bottle in which there is water. 
Likewise, if the flowers are to be combined with 
still life, and are in a bowl or vase, this is filled 
with water, so that the flowers are kept alive. It 
sometimes happens, however, that it is desired to 
represent them as lying loosely upon a table, or 
falling out of a basket ; in which case it is much 
more difficult to prevent them from withering, as 
the stalks cannot then be kept in water. A large 


tray is of great assistance in such a case. Several 
thicknesses of cloth or soft paper are placed in the 
tray, enough water is poured on them to wet them 
thoroughly, and the flowers are then laid upon 
the cloth or paper. The coolness and moisture 
will allow them to remain fresh much longer than 
if they were arranged upon a dry surface. A bit 
of cotton wool saturated with water and wrapped 
around the end of each stem will also aid to keep 
them from wilting. 

When flowers are scarce, it is possible to obtain 
a large amount of practice from one or two speci- 
mens by turning them around and painting the 
same flower in different aspects. One rose may 
thus serve as a model for a full front, three- 
quarters, side, and back view, while a single leaf 
may be changed about in the same way, so that 
the student sees first the right and then the wrong 
side. When these studies of detached flowers and 
leaves turn out well, it is advisable to keep them 
for future reference ; for if the student ever has 
to supply part of the details of a picture from 
memory, such memoranda will be found useful. 

As has been already said, flowers and leaves 
change very rapidly. Most persons whose atten- 
tion has never been drawn to the matter, fancy 
that a cluster of flowers placed in a vase full of 
water, undergoes no alteration until it begins to 


wither. On the contrary, it is shifting and chan- 
ging continually. The flower heads turn on their 
stems, droop down, straighten up, expand, or partly 
close. The leaves vary their position, and some- 
times grow. These movements are often so grad- 
ual as to be invisible, as movements, but their 
effect is but too evident to an artist who is work- 
ing from the flowers. Frequently, when he is 
ready to paint, the appearance of his models dif- 
fers noticeably from that which they presented 
when he began to sketch them. Some varieties 
of flowers are much more variable than others. 
Nasturtiums and hothouse violets change so rapidly 
that their motion can be observed, while orchids 
and Easter lilies remain practically stationary. 
These alterations are due partly to the impulse of 
growth, and partly to the influence of light, which 
always attracts flowers to turn toward it, however 
they may be arranged originally. Because of these 
changes, it is almost impossible to paint a large 
study of flowers all at once. By the time the en- 
tire composition is drawn in pencil, those flowers 
and leaves first sketched have taken a new position, 
and the outline, lights, and shadows are entirely 
different. For this reason it is best, in planning 
a large flower picture, to sketch only the principal 
group, and paint the flowers and leaves composing 
it before they have time to change a great deal. 


The subordinate parts can be added after the main 
features have been thus secured, changes in the 
more distant portions being of less importance. 

Mention has previously been made of the de- 
sirability of carrying on a picture all together, and 
the advice just given is by no means to be taken 
as a contradiction of that earlier advice. It is 
very much better to draw in the whole composi- 
tion at once, and keep every part of it in the same 
stage of advance, when such a course is possible. 
When it is not possible, the plan of painting the 
principal group first, is the only resource. For 
example, if an artist wishes to make a picture of a 
jar full of roses, with more roses scattered around 
the jar upon the table where it stands, he cannot 
pose' all the roses at once, because with so many 
flowers, some will have time to wither before the 
picture is finished. Therefore he paints first the 
roses in the jar, because they are the main feature 
of his composition ; afterward arranging the roses 
which he wants upon the table, and painting those. 
In such a case the jar, although sketched in at the 
beginning in order that the general dimensions 
and proportions of the picture may be fixed, is 
painted last, not only because it is of secondary 
importance, but because it will not alter in any 

When flowers are below the average size of 


the species to which they belong, they should be 
drawn a little larger than they really are, so that 
they appear to be fair specimens, otherwise they 
will make a characterless and unattractive picture. 
Very small kinds of flowers, like the tiny wild 
violet, for instance, or the spring beauty, are not 
suitable for ordinary painting, as their minuteness 
and detail are their only charm, and these qualities 
are not pictorial. They may, perhaps, answer for 
the decoration of menu cards, and they lend them- 
selves well to conventionalization for use in de- 
signing, but are too insignificant to be good 
subjects for a picture, and the student will learn 
nothing by attempting to paint them. 

The coloring of most flowers is exceedingly pure 
and brilliant ; so much so, that in the entire gamut 
of pigments there is none that does not seem flat 
and dull when compared with the tints of nature. 
For this reason, the student need never hesitate to 
employ the most vivid colors in his paint-box, and 
those of the clearest and liveliest quality ; for even 
when the subject he has chosen is delicate in tint, 
what color there is, however pale, must not lose the 
essential characteristics of warmth, transparency, 
and brilliance. 

In the list of paints recommended, yellows are 
well represented, and of the five mentioned, Aureo- 
lin is by far the most bright and luminous, although 


it is not the deepest. It is remarkably brilliant 
and pure in tone, being absolutely free from any 
trace of red or brown, and is, therefore, the best 
yellow to employ, either alone or in combination, 
for painting yellow flowers. Light washes of Au- 
reolin are also serviceable in representing the warm 
tone of light shining through leaves and petals, be- 
cause of its before-mentioned luminous quality. 

The Cadmiums come next to Aureolin in point 
of vividness, but lack its vitality. Even Pale Cad- 
mium has a tinge of red in it, while Orange Cad- 
mium is, as its name denotes, of a strong orange 
hue. Any tendency to red or brown in a yellow, 
causes its washes to look rather dead when they are 
dry, and for this reason it is advisable always to 
mix a little Aureolin with the Cadmiums, even for 
painting orange-colored flowers. The addition of 
Aureolin gives the deeper yellows a life and viva- 
city which they do not inherently possess. These 
three yellows, in different combinations and degrees 
of strength, will answer for painting all yellow flow- 
ers, and an immense variety of tints may be ob- 
tained with them. They are too bright for use in 
still life associated with flowers. They wash well, 
separately or mixed with one another, but do not 
always blend smoothly with blues, greens, and 

Indian Yellow is one of the most valuable colors 




made. It is not brilliant, but is extremely deep, 
warm, and rich in tone, washes admirably, and 
combines perfectly with other colors. While it is 
not vivid enough to represent the yellow of flowers, 
it sometimes answers for the deep touches in the 
middle ; but its chief uses are to supply the yellow 
element in mixed greens, to warm heavy cast shad- 
ows, and to enter into the composition of back- 
ground washes. 

Yellow Ochre is an opaque, earthy yellow, too 
dull for flowers and leaves, but useful for still life 
and backgrounds — mixed with something else, of 
course, for the latter. 

Of the two greens, neither is used pure. Hook- 
er's Green No. 2 is sometimes employed in leaves, 
but is combined with other colors for the purpose, 
being too crude by itself. Its chief value is as an 
element in the shadow tones for yellow flowers, 
although it is also used in still life. Emerald Green, 
likewise, is mainly of service in mixing certain 
shadow tints, and is an unpleasant color to handle, 
except it be employed alone, as in landscape work. 
Only the value of colors in Flower painting is now 
being considered, however. 

Indigo is rather dead in tone, but is valuable for 
mixed greens, and for use in backgrounds. It also 
serves to moderate the brilliancy of brighter blues 
in the shadows of blue flowers. 


Prussian Blue is more lively than Indigo, and 
gives brighter mixed greens. It washes well, and 
is much employed in backgrounds and still life, in 
combination with other colors. On account of its 
greenish tinge, it does not make clear mixed pur- 
ples, the green counteracting the red of the other 
element, and giving a dull, dead color. Both Indigo 
and Prussian Blue are exceedingly strong pigments, 
and a little of them goes a great way. For this 
reason, in using them for mixed tints, it is best to 
add only a little at a time, very cautiously, other- 
wise they will overpower the color with which they 
are combined. 

New Blue and French Blue are fine, bright, and 
pure, and are suitable for painting blue flowers. 
French Blue has a slight tinge of red, and is there- 
fore well adapted to the making of mixed purples. 
These two colors are too bright for use in mixing 
leaf greens or for backgrounds, although they are 
sometimes required for still life, such as blue china. 

Permanent Violet is a clear violet, as is indicated 
by its name. It gives beautiful pale and bright 
purple tones, much clearer than can be obtained 
with a mixed purple, but yields no deep shades. 
It is very valuable for painting the most vivid parts 
of such flowers as the violet, purple iris, pansy, and 

Purple Madder is a thick, rich color, almost 


black in the darkest tones. The light washes are 
dead, and are seldom used, except for dull pur- 
plish stems and twigs, but the strong ones are 
admirable for the warm, deep shadows of some 
richly colored varieties of flowers and fruit. 

Rose Madder is the only lively pink pigment 
obtainable. All others are comparatively dull or 
weak, even Carmine, the brightest of reds, appear- 
ing dead in the pink washes. It is unfortunate 
that Rose Madder is the sole resource, because 
it is a most disagreeable color to handle. It is 
gummy, and requires to be mixed in the water 
with especial care before it will wash smoothly, 
and must be used with great deftness, else it be- 
comes muddy. It is used for pink flowers, for 
which no other paint will answer. 

Light Red is too dull for flowers themselves, 
but is valuable in still life, background and fore- 
ground mixtures, and shadows. The same may be 
said of Indian Red. 

Carmine is a most beautiful red, entirely free 
from brown or yellow. It washes perfectly, but 
is used mainly in its deeper shades, because, 
although when employed of full strength it is 
peculiarly fiery and luminous, the weak tints are 
entirely devoid of any such characteristics. It is 
the only color suitable for painting red flowers, 
although Vermilion is sometimes used for this 


purpose. Vermilion is, however,^ omitted from the 
list, because it is a heavy, opaque color, without 
any element of life or brilliancy. Carmine mixed 
with Orange Cadmium will give a vermilion tint, 
but very much brighter and warmer than can be 
obtained with Vermilion itself. Carmine is also 
employed as one of the elements in mixed purples. 

Burnt Carmine is similar in character to Purple 
Madder, but is valuable in its medium as well as 
in its dark tones, the middle tints serving for such 
crimson flowers as are not especially vivid. It 
yields beautifully smooth washes. 

Burnt Sienna is used in mixed greens, in bright 
brown stems, in background and foreground mix- 
tures, and in still life. It is also sometimes em- 
ployed in minute quantities in the middle of 

Brown Ochre is an earthy color, and is confined 
to backgrounds, foregrounds, and still life. 

Raw Umber and Burnt Umber will seldom be 
required in Flower painting. 

Vandyke Brown is useful for stems, still life, and 
backgrounds, and occasionally for stamens. 

Brown Madder is similar in character and use to 
Purple Madder, but is redder. 

Sepia is employed for mixed flower shadows, for 
foregrounds, backgrounds, and strong cast shadows. 
It is rather inky in its strong tones, and requires 


to be handled with discretion, to keep it from 
settling and appearing dense and heavy. 

Chinese White is a perfectly opaque white pig- 
ment, which should seldom be used, and then only 
in infinitesimal quantities. When it is needed at 
all, nothing else will answer. It serves to indicate 
points of high light so minute that it is impossible 
to paint around them and leave them represented 
by the white paper, and is required only in the im- 
mediate foreground objects. 

The student of course understands that only a 
few of the characteristics of the colors referred to 
have been touched upon in the foregoing descrip- 
tion. An exhaustive review of the possible varia- 
tions and combinations cannot be given, for their 
name is legion, and a knowledge of them is to be 
derived only from study and experiment. On 
general principles it may be said, that wherever 
pure color can be used, it is best to use it, as mixed 
color is never quite as clear and brilliant as pure 
color. For example, if violets are the subject 
chosen, and they happen to be really a trifle bluer 
in tone than Permanent Violet, it is nevertheless 
advisable to employ the latter color quite pure, for 
their local tint, as an admixture of blue will give a 
tone much duller and deader than the violets actu- 
ally have. Where the variation of color is de- 
cided, however, such a liberty is not permissible. 


In a flower picture, the flowers are naturally 
the chief consideration. Leaves, while almost 
always essential, — there are only a few varieties 
of flowers which make a pleasing picture without 
their leaves, — are, nevertheless, of secondary im- 
portance, while the still life, if any be introduced, 
is still more subordinate. Mention has already 
been made of the necessity for keeping flowers 
very vivid and clear in tint, purity and brilliance 
of color being their natural characteristics ; and of 
the inadequacy, in themselves, of even the brightest 
pigments to render this purity and brilliance. If 
an artist in any line of work had to rely solely on 
the positive value of his colors, he would despair 
of ever being able to produce an intelligible pic- 
ture. He therefore calls to his assistance a very 
powerful natural law, — the law of contrast, — and 
by its aid, secures effects of brightness and lumi- 
nosity which are not properties of the actual colors 
employed. For instance, if he paints a bright 
yellow pansy, even though he uses the most bril- 
liant yellow paints he can obtain, his color still 
falls short of nature in vividness and fire ; but if 
he paints a dark purple pansy behind the yellow 
one, so that the two are seen in juxtaposition, the 
yellow pansy at once appears much livelier and 
clearer in tone. This is because he has made use 
of two kinds of contrast, — a contrast of color, and 


a contrast of light and darkness, — and by contrast 
the value of each of the two elemeuts is greatly 

The question of complementary colors is here 
involved, and as it is possible that there are some 
students who do not understand this matter, an 
explanation is given. Colors, in the abstract, are 
divided into two great classes, called, respectively, 
primary and secondary — the tertiary colors need 
not be spoken of, as they are of comparatively 
little importance. The primary colors are those 
which are not made up of separate elements into 
which they may be analyzed, but are individual 
and complete. They are red, yellow y and blue^ 
and it is of rays of these three colors that white 
light is composed. The secondary colors are 
greetty orange^ and purple^ each consisting of a com- 
bination of two of the primary colors. Thus green 
is made of yellow and blue ; orange is made of red 
diVid yellow ; purple is made of red 2Sid blue. Com- 
plementary colors are those two so related that one 
makes up to the other what is lacking for the pro- 
duction of white light. Thus it will be seen that 
two primary colors cannot be complementary to 
each other, because taken together they do not 
include all the elements of white light. Neither 
are two secondary colors complementary to each 
other, because they are so proportioned that taken 


together they compose a tertiary color instead of 
white. A prjmary and a secondary color can be 
complementary to each other, however, and are so 
when the secondary color supplies the other two pri- 
mary colors. Purple is com.plementary to yellow^ 
because it is composed of red and bhiey the remain- 
ing primary colors ; green is complementary to red^ 
because it is composed of yellow and blue ; orange 
is complementary to bluey because it is composed 
of red and yellow. When complementary colors 
are placed side by side, the most powerful color 
contrast possible is established, and by their mu- 
tual influence, the apparent brilliancy of each is 
redoubled. With actual pigments, the limitations 
are such that two primary colors do not invariably 
produce a true secondary color. For example, 
Light Red and New Blue, in combination, make 
gray, not purple ; and it is hardly necessary to say 
that red, yellow, and blue paint mixed together do 
not make white. This is due, not to any lapse of 
the abstract natural law, but to material causes. 

The force of contrast, therefore, being the 
strongest influence that an artist can bring into 
play for giving value to his work, it remains to de- 
cide how he may best turn that force to good pur- 
pose. In whatever part of a picture the strongest 
contrast is established, there will the eye of the 
observer be irresistibly attracted, and that part 


will assume the most importance. Thus it follows 
that whatever the artist wants to make the chief 
feature of his picture, he must bring into contrast 
with the rest, rendering it more brilliant in color, 
and definite in form and detail, so that the*observer 
looks at it perforce. In a flower picture, the flow- 
ers- must be made conspicuous by keeping the 
leaves and still life rather quiet in tone. By sub- 
duing the greens of the foliage, the v^lue of the 
flowers is enhanced, so it is advisable never to 
paint the leaves in a high key of color. As for 
the still life, if there is any in the picture, it is 
simply accessory, and must be kept rigorously in 
its place, and not permitted to rival the flowers 
and attract attention to itself by exhibiting either 
vividness of tint or sharply defined contrasts. 
Still life painted alone is quite a different matter, 
and will be spoken of later. That employed as 
accessory in flower pictures, should be carefully 
chosen with a view to the purpose it is to fulfil. 
It is often serviceable as a means of suggesting 
variety of tone, and of introducing some color 
that will set off the tint of the flowers advanta- 
geously, but its color must be subdued, not aggres- 
sive. For instance, a cluster of pink roses in a 
blue bowl makes a charming picture, but the blue 
of the bowl must be nowhere near so bright for 
blue, as the pink of the roses is for pink, other- 


wise the bowl rivals the flowers in value, and the 
latter sink into comparative unimportance, when 
they should be the first consideration. It is in a 
case like this, that a knowledge of the qualities 
of different paints is found useful, for the artist 
who has such knowledge, reserves his brilliant 
pigments for flowers, and his dull ones for still 
life, making use of their inherent characteristics 
to gain the effects he desires. As an illustration 
may be cited the example of purple violets in a 
yellow vase, a subject that is favored by many 
painters. The color-scheme is, of course, founded 
on the fact that yellow and purple are comple- 
mentary, and the yellow of the vase is meant to 
increase the value of the violets ; but the success 
of the idea depends entirely upon the way in 
which it is carried out. If the vase be painted 
with Aureolin or the Cadmiums, these paints are 
so much more brilliant in quality than is any pur- 
ple than can be employed, that the flowers are 
rendered of secondary importance, and the eye is 
attracted by the vase to the neglect of the real 
subject of the picture, the color of the flowers 
serving rather as a set-off to the still life, than the 
color of the still life adding value to that of the 
flowers. On the other hand, if Yellow Ochre and 
Brown Ochre are used for the vase, these pigments 
are so dull in quality that, while they serve the 


purpose of suggesting the complementary color, 
they offer no rivalry, and the violets derive the 
desired advantage from the association. 

The management of backgrounds is something 
that usually gives the student a great deal of trou- 
ble. He finds difficulty in deciding what color he 
shall employ, and what depth of tone. It is, of 
course, impossible to give minute and exact direc- 
tions, because each picture demands a background 
suited to its own individual peculiarities. Certain 
artists always use as a background a dull tone of 
the complementary color of the flowers in the pic- 
ture, while others allow the background to suggest 
a repetition of colors already seen in the subject. 
This is entirely a matter of personal preference. 
In the author's opinion, a complementary back- 
ground is rather crude and staring in effect (except 
when it is green), and is apt to come forward and 
assert itself, thus flattening the picture, and mak- 
ing it lack depth ; while a background repeating 
the tone of the subject, takes away from the value 
of its coloring. Non-committal backgrounds, such 
as gray, dull green, and olive, are nearly always 
satisfactory and artistic, and will harmonize with 
everything. An atmospheric blue, without bril- 
liancy, is sometimes pleasing as a background for 
white or pink flowers, but should be kept of a 
subdued quality, no matter how dark it may be. 


A bright, frank tone employed as a background 
kills the effect of the flowers and leaves, and robs 
the picture of atmosphere, and is to be invariably 

For light flowers, a background of medium depth 
of tint is best. It must not be too dark, because 
it then lessens the value of the shadows in the 
flowers and foliage, and makes them look bleached 
and weak ; and it must not be too pale, because it 
then offers so little contrast to the flowers that 
they are not brought into relief. For the latter 
reason — the lack of contrast — a dark background 
should never be used for dark flowers. 

The attractiveness of a picture is often increased 
by a graduated background, left quite pale and 
delicate at one side of the picture, but increasing 
in depth of color as it approaches the other. Just 
how the color shall be distributed, depends upon 
the composition of the picture. 

A background can seldom be put in with one 
wash of color. Usually it is purposely more or 
less clouded, and these graduated tints are given 
by means of successive washes, each one allowed 
to dry before the next deeper one is added. The 
paper should be moistened with clean water where 
the wash is to be begun, that the color may fade 
off delicately, instead of having a sharp edge. 
The color is used much wetter for foregrounds and 


backgrounds than for flowers and leaves, and is 

often allowed to run on the paper ; but it must be 

carefully guided around the outline of the subject, 

in order to keep the latter clear, and it must not 

be allowed to stand and settle. It is better to 

begin at the outside and carry the background 

color toward the subject, than to work from the 

subject outward. If a very dark background is 

desired, it may be more satisfactorily obtained by 

seven or eight successive washes, than by laying 

on very heavy color once or twice. 

The background cannot, of course, be put in 
until the entire composition is definitely estab- 
lished on the paper. The first background wash 
may be laid on when tjje picture is about half 
finished, and afterward the background may be 
darkened as much as proves to be necessary for 
giving the proper effect to the completed picture. 

The word foreground is used in two ways. It 
designates the locality in a picture that seems to 
be nearest to the observer, and thus a flower or 
leaf is said to be in the foreground when it appears 
to be in advance of the others, and to come closer 
to the eye. " Foreground " is also a specific name 
for the horizontal plane of a picture, which begins 
at the lower edge and goes back in perspective. 
Many flower pictures do not have a foreground, in 
this sense. They may consist only of a branch or 


cluster of flowers, which is not represented as rest- 
ing upon anything, or the flowers may be in a 
vase of which only the upper part is seen. When 
the horizontal plane is shown, it should differ 
somewhat in color or depth of tone from the back- 
ground, otherwise it will seem to be simply a con- 
tinuation of the latter, and the idea that it is solid 
and horizontal will not be fully conveyed. It is 
often desirable to have the junction of the back- 
ground and foreground indicated by a perceptible 
horizon line, which should be perfectly level, but 
not so sharply defined as to look hard. There is 
the same reason for not employing highly colored 
foregrounds as for avoiding brilliant backgrounds; 
that is, they distract attention from the flowers, 
and make the latter seem dull and insignificant. 
Gray and brownish tones are suitable for fore- 
grounds ; and an excellent effect is often obtained 
by washing in a few indistinct reflections of the 
leaves and flowers, in which their colors are re- 
peated in a lower key. 

It must be noted that objects lying or standing 
upon the foreground, cast more or less strong shad- 
ows on it, and it is by the proper representation 
of these shadows in the picture, that such objects 
are held down, and made to appear as if they are 
really lying or standing on a level surface, not float- 
ing in the air. A cast shadow is always strongest 


nearest the object casting it, and diminishes in 
depth as it recedes from the object. Foreground 
shadows may be rendered in a picture by grayish 
or brownish tones, and a faint suggestion of yellow 
may be washed over them afterward, to give them 
warmth and transparency. When one flower or 
leaf casts a shadow upon another, the shadow color 
is used that is employed in the ordinary shading of 
that flower or leaf. 

Reference has been ihade to the fact that a 
color appears brighter when it is contrasted with 
a duller or decidedly darker tone, and also when 
a suggestion of the complementary color is in- 
troduced ; and that whenever a strong contrast is 
thus established in any part of a picture, that part 
seems to come forward and be more prominent 
and conspicuous than the rest. The artist takes 
advantage of this circumstance to give his group 
roundness and perspective. If he is painting a 
cluster of flowers and foliage, he will make those 
flowers and leaves which are in front, the most 
vivid in color, will work them up in detail, and 
will concentrate all his sharp contrasts there, in 
order to fix their foreground position more thor- 
oughly. In the flowers and leaves at the sides 
of the group, he will have less brilliancy and con- 
trast, thus allowing them to seem to recede natu- 
rally from the eye, sinae it is not specially attracted 


to them. For the most distant portions of the 
group, — those which appear to be behind all the 
rest, — he will use much duller color, and keep 
them somewhat indefinite, thus aiding the impres- 
sion that they are comparatively far away. Dis- 
tance, with actual objects, has the power of 
subduing bright tones and obscuring detail, there- 
fore effects ot distance in pictures are obtained 
by lowering the key of color, and omitting detail 

Just how much, and in what manner, color is 
modified in a painting to give the feeling of dis- 
tance, will be determined by the way the light 
falls, and the sort of background that is employed. 
Those flowers and leaves which the artist wishes 
to represent as farthest from the eye, he usually 
makes of a tone that approaches the color of the 
background, in order that they may not contrast 
with it (in which case they would stand out ag- 
gressively and attract too much attention), but 
may appear to be vague by reason of their re- 
moved position. When the light falls in such a 
way that the group has a light and a dark side, the 
distant flowers on the light side are treated in a 
different fashion from the distant flowers on the 
dark side. As an illustration, suppose the group 
in question to be a bunch of violets. Those vio- 
lets in the immediate front of the bunch, close to 


the eye, are made as bright as possible, and some 
of the details are suggested, the lights and shad- 
ows being contrasted strongly enough to throw the 
flowers into relief and make them seem to come 
forward. As the flowers on the light side of the 
group recede from the eye, detail and contrast are 
gradually omitted, but a clear violet color is still 
employed for them, because, as they are on the 
side toward the light, they continue to receive it, 
however far away they may be. If the background 
is light, they are made paler, in order to prevent 
them from contrasting strongly with it, as has 
been explained. If the background is dark, they 
retain their depth of tone, for the same reason. 
On the dark side of the group, however, the violets 
are not only deprived of detail and contrast, but 
are painted with a much duller purple, and in the 
farthest distance, sometimes lose their individuality 
altogether, becoming merely shadowy suggestions 
of flowers. 

The general principles of the coloring of a 
flower picture, as a whole, having been given, the 
method of treating individual flowers may now be 

The high lights of a flower are really lighter 
than any other part of it, but they are not white 
unless the flower is white. If the petals have a 
glossy surface, as is the case with poppies and 


buttercups, the high lights will be much lighter in 
comparison with the actual local color, than is the 
case with flowers having a dull or velvety surface, 
like red roses or pansies ; but in all colored flowers 
the high lights, however light they may appear to 
be, have, nevertheless, a more or less strong tinge 
of color. In a pink rose, for example, the high 
lights are pink ; in a jonquil they are bright yel- 
low. They obtain their value, as high lights, by 
contrast with the rest of the flower, which is 
deeper in tone. 

The majority of the shadows in a colored flower 
are not gray, but partake of the local color. Cit- 
ing a pink rose again, if it is carefully regarded, 
the high lights will be found to appear lighter 
than the actual tone of the petals where they are 
seen, and the parts which seem next deeper in tint 
will be apt to show the real local color of the rose ; 
while the shadows in the curves of the petals, and 
between the petals, are more often an intensified 
pink than a gray. In the middle of the rose, the 
small, deep shadows will be actually red. What 
gray shadows there are, will be found chiefly on 
the dark side of the flower, from which light, either 
direct or shining through petals, is entirely cut off. 
Thus it will be seen that flowers require to be 
shaded mainly with their own color, instead of with 
gray ; not that grays are not essential to the proper 


representation of the flower, but they must be used 
with discrimination. If the picture of a colored 
flower be shaded entirely with gray, it will have no 
warmth nor life, and will, therefore, not look like 
the real object ; for flowers are never cold nor dead 
in appearance, no matter what their color may be. 
The best general advice that can be given on this 
point, is that a flower should be shaded on the 
light side, and in the middle, with variations of the 
local color, which should also be used on the dark 
side, in places where warm shadows are obviously 
required ; gray being employed for the less definite 
shadows on the dark side. 

In painting white flowers, the white paper is 
left untouched to represent the high lights, the 
shadows being rendered by gray, except those in 
the middle, which usually have a yellow glow. 
Reflected lights on a green leaf or pure white 
flower, or light shining through it, are always 
golden in tone, while in colored flowers, such 
lights appear as a warmer and more intense shade 
of the local tint. The shadows in the heart of any 
sort of a pictured flower should always be kept 
very warm, otherwise it will look dull and blighted. 
In fact, all warm tones to be discerned in the 
model, should be made the most of in the picture, 
as far as can conscientiously be done. 

It has been said that the foreground flowers of 


a group should be brought forward toward the eye 
by means of " working them up " to a greater 
extent, that is, by means of putting in more detail 
of form, light, and shadow. The details most ef- 
fective in making a flower stand out, are the very 
small, sharp shadows caused by irregularities in 
the edges of the petals ; the exceedingly strong, 
dark touches of color seen in the centre of double 
flowers like roses, hollyhocks, and chrysanthe- 
mums ; and individual stamens, both dark and 
light, like those found in dogwood or fruit blos- 
soms. Such details should only be used in the 
foreground, because they would naturally be most 
obvious in the flowers nearest the eye, and to put 
them in flowers which are meant to seem farther 
away, is to destroy the effect of distance. For 
example, in painting a branch of dogwood blos- 
soms, the two or three flowers in front may be 
allowed to display indications of some of the in- 
dividual florets in the round, yellowish centre ; but 
in the more distant blossoms, the florets should be 
omitted, and only the general shape, color, and 
texture of the middle should be shown. The 
small, sharp shadows, mentioned as appearing in 
foreground flowers, are called accents, and are to 
be confined chiefly to the light side of the flower. 
In some colored flowers, jonquils, for instance, they 
are more effective when gray is used for them 


than when they are painted in the warm tone, and 
as they are very little, the gray does not deaden 
the general color of the flower. It is never advi- 
sable to indicate many details, even in the nearest 
flower, as breadth and strength are lost by minute 
attention to trifles ; but what details are put in, 
should be placed where they will tell, and will give 
the desired aspect of roundness and reality. 

Each sort of flower has its own peculiarities of 
structure and texture. The structure is largely 
indicated by the drawing, but not altogether. 
Take, for example, an Easter lily. It has six 
petals, which grow in two sets of three, one set in- 
side the other. The three inside petals are wider 
than the three which are outside, and are addition- 
ally distinguished by having two lengthwise ribs. 
The way that the petals grow, and their respec- 
tive size, are shown by the preliminary sketch ; but 
the sketch does not show these ribs, because their 
existence is indicated on the actual flower only 
by lines of shadow. The inexperienced student 
who paints a lily, invariably commits the mistake 
of bringing these ribs into undue prominence by 
making the lines of shadow evident throughout 
the whole length of the petal. It is true that they 
do extend thus on the actual petal, but he only 
notices it when he rivets his attention upon that 
one particular part of the lily ; the fact is not at 


all obvious when he regards the flower as a whole, 
or as one of a group. If he gives a mere sugges- 
tion of the rib shadows at that place on the petal 
where they happen to be strongest, he will obtain 
a much more truthful and artistic effect. 

This point of suggestion is worthy of considera- 
tion. The eye, if it receives a hint of an idea, 
properly conveyed, has a peculiar faculty of follow- 
ing out that idea without further aid ; and it is well 
to take advantage of this fact in painting a picture, 
and to suggest details rather than to definitely and 
completely map them out. A simple hint of the 
structural peculiarity of the lily petal just men- 
tioned, will be sufficient to inform the eye that the 
ribs are there. In the Introduction, the student 
is advised to omit from his picture everything that 
is not necessary to make it appear rational and 
truthful. Particularization is not necessary, when 
a suggestion will convey the thought perfectly, 
therefore only such detail should be employed as 
is essential to an understanding of the subject. 

The texture of a flower is shown by the shape 
and character of the shadows, and also, to a cer- 
tain extent, by the edges of the petals. In a 
glossy, brittle flower, like the lily, the shadows 
are sharp and crisp, while in a rose they are softer 
and more indefinite. The edges of. the petals of 
thick, leathery flowers, like the calla Hly, are 


smooth, while the edges of the petals of thin, deli- 
cate flowers, like the poppy, are often irregular or 
fluted. These are mentioned simply as illustrations. 
Each kind of flower has its own texture, which must 
not be overlooked, else the character is lost. 

Flowers which are spotted or mottled with 
strongly contrasting color, require special mention, 
because of the tendency that all spots have to 
become unduly evident in a picture. Everybody, 
probably, has noticed with how startling force a 
spotted gown comes out in a photograph ; and the 
same effect is produced in a picture of a spotted 
flower, if the spots are painted of as deep a color 
as they are in nature. They at once assume enor- 
mous importance, and come forward with such 
violence that they do not seem to belong to the 
flower at all, but to be hanging in front of it — an 
aspect quite different from that presented by the 
real spots upon the real flower. The only way 
to make mottlings retain their natural place and 
value in a picture, is to paint them very much paler 
than they actually are, and to blur their edges a 
little. This is one of the cases when, if the artist 
tries to tell the exact, positive truth, it has the 
effect of absurd exaggeration ; therefore he must 
only delicately insinuate it, if he wishes to hold to 
the artistic verities. 

While this rule holds good with regard to all 


freckled flowers, like Japanese lilies, field lilies, 
foxgloves, and cypripediums, it is not applicable to 
flowers in which the petals are marked with one 
large, distinct blotch, as is the case with pansies and 
nasturtiums. In a picture of such flowers as these, 
the blotches of the for^round indi\iduals may be 
rendered with the actual depth of color. 

Wliat has been said of flowers, is true also of 
leaves^ although the latter will be found more diffi- 
cult to paint well High lights and accents are 
to be contined to those in the foreground, while for 
those in the backgr»>und, bright tones and sharp 
contrasts are to be avoided. Leaves which have a 
sm«xvth surface pocs>ess one trait worthy of particu- 
lar notice : that is. that whatever the local color of 
the leaf may be. even if it is a very yellow green, 
the high lights will have a bluish tone: If they 
are not thus rendered in the picture, the effect 
will not be naturoL 

Gray washes are not used in shading leaves. 
The shad^j^^-s are given by darker greenss. and it 
rr:ay be rae:i::o:i<ed at once, that the darker a green 
sha'.-ow i>^ the w.imier it sho-^Ii be. By a zixirm 
gre^en is r::-ea:tt o:te that is t:r,gei ^"ith veZow or 
br. wr^ \\^":<er^"\^r gr^^r. shadows are very* deep, 
as ara^^-^r.g the st;^::ts of a bench of dowers, they 
sh. ah: he '^rinesent^a as havlrg a y^-w glow, or 
they -wkill ssevrm hJ^e i schc gree-i: scihstance; in- 


stead of being mysterious and atmospheric. This 
is true even when the local color of the stems and 
leaves is blue green. If the student cannot per- 
ceive it at first, he must work on faith until his 
eye becomes trained to an appreciation of it. 

All that has been said in the foregoing part of 
this chapter, applies equally well to Flower paint- 
ing in any method, wet or dry, and much of it is 
true also with respect to Landscape and Figure 
painting ; but general directions will now be given 
for working on dry paper, and as these directions 
are for the help of beginners and amateurs, they 
will be systematized as far as may be. It is, of 
course, not possible to condense art instruction 
into a set of rules, by following which the student 
will automatically produce a good picture ; but it is 
quite possible to impart such knowledge of the 
mechanical handling of color, and the method of 
carrying on a picture, as has been derived from 
study and experience, and is therefore known to 
be practical. If a certain effect can be easily and 
satisfactorily obtained by doing a certain thing, or 
using a certain color, there is no reason why the 
student should not be made aware of the fact. 

In painting on dry paper, the palest wash is first 
put in, and work is carried on gradually from the 
light tones to the dark, and from the warm shadows 
to the gray. The deep washes are placed over the 


light ones, except in cases where the two are in 
opposition, and would counteract each other, as in 
a yellow pansy bordered with purple. The yellow 
wash cannot be put all over the pansy, covering 
the parts where the purple is to go, because when 
purple is washed over yellow, it loses its color and 
looks brown ; therefore the parts where the purple 
belongs, must be left free from yellow. There is 
no need, however, to omit the yellow from that 
place in the pansy petals where the blotches — 
called the eyes and beard — are situated, because 
the blotches are so dark that the color beneath 
will not affect them. 

The cases where the dark wash does not go on 
over the light ones, are exceptional, and must be 
recognized as such. In washing in a light color, 
it is usually carried all over the petal, no space 
being left for the deep color. 

One wash is, as a rule, allowed to become quite 
dry before the next is put on. This gives the 
shading a blocky appearance, because the edges 
of the washes do not become indistinct. Under 
unskilled hands this blockiness becomes hardness, 
but it ought to be so controlled as to afford only 
an effect of crispness and reality. 

These three peculiarities ; namely, working from 
the light tones down to the dark, putting on the 
dark washes over the light, and permitting one 


wash to dry before the next is added, sum up the 
special characteristics of dry-paper work, which 
leans to the side of realism rather than impres- 

As an illustration, it will be assumed that the 
student has drawn a rose-leaf, and wishes to paint 
it. He begins by washing the lightest shade of 
green, that is, the tint of the high light, all over the 
leaf. After that is dry, he looks for the next 
darker shade of green in the real leaf, and washes 
that shade all over the pictured leaf, except where 
he sees the high lights. After that, again, dries, 
he looks for the shadows, and paints those succes- 
sively, in the shape and color in which he sees 
them on the real leaf. The shape of the leaf 
shadows is always largely governed by the veins, 
but these veins are not to be indicated as stringy 
lines. If the actual shape of the shadows is imi- 
tated, that will show sufficiently the character and 
position of the veins. 

The second wash — that is, the wash that is put 
on immediately after the high-light wash — must 
never show a very pronounced difference in depth 
of color from the first wash, as too abrupt a deep- 
ening of tone gives great hardness. Also, very 
dark color must be used sparingly in light flowers. 
The darker a shadow is, the smaller it is, generally 


In laying in the first tint of a colored flower, or 
the lightest shadow of a white one, the paint must 
not be carried from one petal to another in one 
great wash ; each petal must be painted separately, 
and must be kept apart from the adjacent ones 
by leaving the tiniest possible thread of white 
between. This is done chiefly to prevent the anat- 
omy of the flower from being lost. The white line 
should be so very narrow, and so broken, that it 
does not impress the observer as being a line at 
all. As it has the effect of making the petals 
stand out and seem distinct, it should only be al- 
lowed to remain permanently in foreground flowers. 

When yellow appears in a flower simply as re- 
flected light, or light shining through the petals, 
it is one of the last tones to be added ; but when 
it appears as a local color, — as in the middle of 
a wild rose, a cosmos flower, or a water lily, the 
spike of a calla lily, or the throat of a Cattleya, — 
it should be put in first of all. This is because 
yellow, when it thus occurs, is the most life-giving 
element in the picture, and its full value must be 
preserved. Putting it in at the beginning is sim- 
ply a precaution that insures its correct placing, and 
defines its full limits at once, so that there is no 
danger of encroaching upon its proper ground with 
other color, and so diminishing its importance. 

Plenty of color should always be mixed, — enough 


SO that the brush can be dipped into it. The 
point of the brush is to be used for shaping the 
shadows, and putting in details ; but all washes must 
be made with the body of the brush, using a few 
broad touches, and never going back over partly 
dry ground. It will not do to stop in the midst 
of putting on a wash ; it must all go on at once, 
as wet color cannot be joined to dry without the 
junction remaining permanently visible. The brush 
should be full enough of color not to drag upon 
the paper, but not so full that the color runs off 
and stands in a drop upon the surface, as in that 
case the paint settles and forms a hard, dark line. 
If a drop does chance to be left by the lifting of 
the brush when a wash is finished, it may be re- 
moved by touching it very delicately with a damp 
sponge, or with the edge of a fragment of blotting- 
paper. Neither sponge, blotting-paper, nor cloth 
should ever be pressed on the wet surface, as the 
freshness of the wash and the texture of the paper 
are thereby injured. 

The following hints as to the colors which are 
suitable for painting different sorts of flowers, may 
be useful to the amateur, who is not familiar with 
the peculiarities of the various pigments. These 
hints are not to be considered as recipes, but sim- 
ply as suggestions of how a pleasing result may be 


Yellow flowers, and yellow middles and stamens 
of flowers, may be painted with Aureolin and the 
two Cadmiums, used alone or in combination, as the 
subject demands. For the gray shadows of yellow 
flowers. Orange Cadmium and Hooker's Green No. 
2, mixed together, give a good color. 
. Blue flowers demand the brightest blues in the 
list. New Blue and French Blue, but these some- 
times require to be modified by the addition of a 
little red or yellow. The deep shadows may be of 
a duller blue, in which Indigo is mixed. If a gray 
tone is desired, a little Burnt Sienna may be added 
to the blue shadow tint. 

Purple flowers are painted with Permanent Vio- 
let and with mixed purples, the brightest of the 
latter being composed of French Blue and Car- 
mine. Purple Madder is useful for the very dark 
touches. A gray purple may be produced by mix- 
ing Prussian Blue or Indigo with Carmine. 

Red flowers are painted with Carmine, Orange 
Cadmium being added when a scarlet tone is 
needed. The shadows may be rendered with 
washes of Burnt Carmine, and with a mixture of 
Carmine and Hooker's Green No. 2. 

Pink flowers must be painted with Rose Madder, 
because it is the only bright pink paint ; but since 
it has no great depth of tint. Carmine must be 
mixed with it for the stronger tones. The gray 


shadows may be painted with a mixture of Rose 
Madder and Emerald Green, a combination that 
requires to be handled with great care, as it has 
a strong tendency to decompose and become 

White flowers may be shaded with a gray com- 
posed of Indigo and Sepia. Neither element should 
be allowed to preponderate, because if the shadows 
are too blue, they will look solid and stony, while 
if they are too brown, the flower will seem yellow- 
ish instead of white. 

All the warm shades and the bright cdtors are 
usually put in a flower before the gr^y^ishadows 
are added; but in flowers which are practically 
white, with only a touch of color, the reverse is 
true. In apple-blossoms, for instance, the flowers 
are shaded as if they were pure white, and the pink 
tinges are painted afterward. 

Green leaves, which are generally to be kept sub- 
dued in tone, are best painted with mixed greens. 
Indigo and Indian Yellow make a very good comj 
bination, which can be varied by using different 
proportions of the colors ; Prussian Blue and Indian 
Yellow yield greens of the same general character 
as the foregoing, but brighter; Hooker's Green 
No. 2 and Burnt Sienna give various olive and 
brownish greens. The effect of light shining 
through a green leaf or a white flower may be 


obtained by carrying a wash of Aureolin over the 
leaf or flower after the shading is done. 

When it is desired that the edge of a shadow or 
wash should fade off gradually, instead of stopping 
suddenly, it should be put on as usual ; but before 
it has time to dry, a clean, moist brush should be 
passed smoothly along the edge of the wet color. 
This will soften the edge, and allow it to blend in 
with the adjacent tint. 

The question of background colors is so wide 
that it is hardly possible to give any definite advice 
without seeing the particular picture for which 
the background is required. Indigo, Indian Yellow, 
and Sepia, mixed together, give a satisfactory range 
of dull, grayish greens. Hooker's Green No. 2, 
Indigo, and Sepia afford a series of colder tones. 
Prussian Blue and Burnt Sienna, combined, make 
very pleasing atmospheric greenish blues, which are 
not aggressive. As for foregrounds, if the amateur 
has no special, actual surface in mind, such as an 
onyx table or a damask cloth, he may use a wash 
of Sepia for his foreground, or a mixture of Sepia 
and Indigo. As has been said, it is always advisable 
to keep both background and foreground dull anol 
subdued, in order to give the subject of the picture 
greater value. 

Nearly all the instruction given for flowers, will 
apply equally well to fruit, except that with the 


latter it is often desirable to model the color while 
it is still moist. When such is the case, the second 
wash of paint is put on before the first is dry, so 
that they run together more or less ; and the third 
wash before the second is dry, and so on. Colors 
must be used rather wet for this sort of work, but 
not so wet that they mingle and are indistinguish- 
able. In round fruits, like oranges and plums, a 
rotundity of effect is gained by moist modeling. 

The most should be made of all color that can 
be discerned in fruit. Purple plums show great 
diversity of tone in the same individual, blue, pur- 
ple, red, and amber tints being often visible ; there 
are bright red lights in blackberries, while green 
grapes have frequently a pinkish tinge. 

When still life is used with flowers, it must be 
kept subordinate, and therefore all its striking 
details (such as the brilliant high lights, and the 
decoration, if it has any) must be severely toned 
down ; but in a picture where still life forms the 
subject of the composition, the object in the fore- 
ground may be brought out and elaborated, as in 
the case of flowers, and effects of distance in the 
other objects attained in the same way, also. 
Bright colors may likewise be used. 

Pottery and porcelain often have a high glaze, 
and sometimes their gloss is so brilliant that the 
high lights seem white, even on dark ware. The 


custom of working around such a high light, in 
putting on the color-washes, and leaving the white 
paper to represent it, causes it to seem very bril- 
liant, but has one disadvantage ; that is, the color 
is apt to settle at the edge of the white space, and 
so outline it with a dark line, spoiling its effect as 
a spot of light. Some artists, therefore, do not 
leave these high lights, but carry the color all over 
the object, obtaining the high lights, when the 
color is dry, by washing off the color at the required 
spot with a sponge. If a hole the size and shape 
of the high light is cut in a bit of water color paper, 
and the paper is laid on the picture, with the hole 
over the place where the high light ought to be, 
the sponging can be done through the hole with- 
out danger of injury to the surrounding color. 
The paper must be held down firmly, and the 
sponge must be wet in clean water, and then 
squeezed as dry as possible ; for if a drop of water 
is pressed out during the sponging process, the 
water will run under the paper and cause trouble. 
Small errors in a picture may be removed in this 
way, the paper being allowed to dry before the 
corrections are painted in. 

Sponging out large mistakes is rather dangerous, 
because, unless it is done very skilfully, the color is 
apt to be smeared all over the paper, and the pic- 
ture ruined. If such sponging is undertaken, the 


sponge must be constantly cleaned in fresh water 
and squeezed dry, and the paper must not be 
rubbed too hard. In sponging out a background, 
the motion should be from the subject of the 
picture outward, to avoid injury to the flowers, or 
whatever the subject may be. 

If pottery is figured, what has been said about 
simply suggesting detail must be remembered, and 
only the effective and noticeable parts of the dec- 
oration must be put in. A hint to the eye, cleverly 
given, will be far better than an elaborately worked- 
out plan of the ornamentation. 

When clear, untinted glass is to be represented, 
the student must place the real glass, from which 
he is working, on just such an actual foreground, 
and against just such an actual background, as he 
means to have in his picture ; for being transpar- 
ent, the glass takes the color of what is behind 
and under it. If the glass he uses as a model 
stands on a red tablecloth and has a white wall 
behind it, and he paints it as he sees it, and then, 
in his picture, washes in a green background and 
a brown foreground, the glass in the picture will 
not look like glass at all, and its appearance will 
be quite unaccountable to the casual eye. Colored 
glass is also influenced in the same way, but not 
to the same degree. Water in glass of any kind 
entirely changes the lights and shadows, so that 


they are not at all the same as when the glass is 
empty. Stems and twigs showing through a glass 
vase should never be represented with as much 
brilliancy and distinctness as those outside, other- 
wise they will not ''seem to be inside the glass. 
The refraction of light causes them to appear to 
be broken where they enter the water, a fact that 
must not be ignored in the picture. 

Metallic paints are absolutely inadmissible for 
use in pictures. In representations of china or 
glass having a gold decoration, the gold must be 
rendered by yellow, brown, reddish, or greenish 
tones, as the light and the situation happen to 
demand. The proper colors, rightly employed, 
will give the desired effect of metal. Objects of 
copper, brass, bronze, silver, or pewter should be 
painted on the same principle. 

Distinct reflections of adjacent objects are often 
seen in highly glazed pottery, bright metal articles, 
and glass. These are frequently effective, intro- 
duced in a picture, but should not be made as defi- 
nite as they really are. The same may be said of 
the reflections cast by still life and flowers when 
they are placed on a polished table of wood or 
stone. The representations of such reflections 
must be kept so low in tone that they do not rival 
in importance the object that casts them. A light 
additional wash of the foreground color, carried all 


over the foreground after the reflections have been 
painted, is useful in subduing them and rendering 
them harmonious. 

It is often desirable v^ith still life, as with fruit, 
to model the color while it is moist, in order to 
secure very gradual effects, and to avoid abrupt 
transitions of tint. The washes must be made 
rather wet, but not so much so that they run to- 
gether in confusion, or settle upon the paper in 
streaks. The color must always be kept under 

Books, music, and all printed matter must be 
painted with extreme care, and require great accu- 
racy and delicacy of touch. They are not gen- 
erally popular subjects, and are too difficult for 
beginners to attempt. 

Drapery also must be carefully handled. The 
high lights on the folds, especially in velvet and 
satin, must be given their full value, and the shape 
of the shadows must be kept, else the effect of 
draped fabric will not be produced, but rather an 
appearance of something solid and stiff. It is 
sometimes advisable to blend drapery shadows a 
great deal. If the fabric is figured, the figures 
must be merely suggested, not elaborated. Dra- 
pery employed as a background must be kept sub- 
ordinate in value, and the fact of its presence 
conveyed by hints rather than by definite delinea- 


tion. Carefully painted plush or velvet, although 
very beautiful in itself, is too rich a background 
for fir> wer^, and if a drapery background \s wanted 
for them, something having a dim, shadowy effect 
should be selected. 

While the student is working at a picture, he 
ou^ht now and then to set it away from him and 
lrx>k at its general aspect, for by so doing he will 
be able to see and correct many faults which are 
not evident to him while it is kept constantly close 
under his eye. After he thinks the picture is fin- 
ished, he should look at it from a distance and take 
in its effect as a whole ; for he will invariably find, 
by thus studying it, that there is still a great deal 
to be done in the way of touching up here and 
toning down there. It will often be found requi- 
site to throw back a part of the group into greater 
shadow, and this may be done by washing a tone 
of gray over that part, as a whole. The shadow 
washes added in this wholesale way must be put 
on with few touches, and very lightly, and the sur- 
face on which they are placed must be quite dry, 
otherwise the brush will wash up the color beneath 
and spoil it, especially if it be dark. 

In conclusion, the student is warned against 
leaving tiny patches of white paper visible in any 
part of his picture that he wishes to keep shadowy, 
distant, or obscure. Such little patches always 



have the effect of bringing forward the part in 
which they occur. 

Much has been included in this chapter which is 
applicable to all painting. It will not be repeated 
in the chapters devoted to Landscape and Figure 
painting, because the limits of the volume forbid 
needless amplification, and repetition of a printed 
explanation is obviously unnecessary. 


Landscape and Marine painting are, in some re- 
spects, the pleasantest branches of art to pursue, 
for they are open-air occupations, and take their 
votaries into all sorts of charming and picturesque 
places. Moreover, they give a broader view of 
nature, and an increased appreciation of those beau- 
ties of sky and sea and land, which are so familiar 
that many persons do not recognize them as beau- 
ties at all. 

The landscape artist can never hope to rival 
nature ; for nature has real light, real distance, and 
real atmosphere with which to give effects, while 
he has nothing more luminous than white paper, 
and only a flat, vertical surface for the representa- 
tion of miles of distant country, and the immeas- 



urable depths of the heavens. When the limitations 
are seriously considered, it seems a miracle that a 
painter is able to reproduce the aspect of scenery 
with any semblance of truth. 

Before the student makes a practical attempt in 
this line of work, he should learn to look at a land- 
scape as a whole, and take in the general, recipro- 
cal effect of earth, water, and sky ; for the untrained 
eye is very apt to fix itself upon detail, and ignore 
things of greater importance. Thus a beginner's 
attention will be absorbed by a stump, or a clump 
of grasses in the immediate foreground, when the 
actual value of such a detail, in a picture, would per- 
haps lie in its ability to lend value to the distance 
by force .of contrast. The front foreground of a 
picture is by no means always the most important 
part of it. Sometimes the sky is the chief feature, 
sometimes far-away aspects of mountains or cliffs ; 
and in such cases, foreground items are introduced 
simply to establish a proper perspective, and to 
give reality to the picture. Even in pictures where 
the sky and horizon are not visible, as in bits of deep 
woodland, the principal object is seldom or never 
closest to the eye, being, on the contrary, somewhat 
removed from it. This is one of the differences 
between Landscape and Flower painting ; for in the 
latter, the main feature of the picture is usually 
nearest. A flower study, however, includes only 


an extremely limited area, and the subject is there- 
fore necessarily regarded at short range ; while a 
landscape, however small, is so comparatively ex- 
tensive in compass, that the observer has to be 
given a sense of removal before he can grasp the 
meaning. As a general rule, the wider the propor- 
tionate expanse of the scene included in the pic- 
ture, the farther away the main object is placed. 
For example, if an artist paints an ocean picture 
with a wide horizon, it is usually for the sake of 
introducing an enormous billow as the chief fea- 
ture, or else ihe setting sun or rising moon. In the 
first case, the billow, which is the principal object, 
is in the foreground, it is true, but it is also true 
that the horizon is not extensive in comparison with 
the space occupied by the billow, but is extended 
only far enough to accommodate the billow's length 
within the limits of the picture. In the second case, 
where the sun or moon is the principal object, 
and is in the extreme distance, the horizon line 
will generally be found to continue for a compara- 
tively long distance at each side, and the picture 
will include an expanse of sea and >6ky of which 
only a small proportion is occupied by the orb. 

In water color landscape work, it is very much 
better to aim at securing a simple, pleasing sugges- 
tion of effect, than to try to represent scenery with 
photographic accuracy. There is a great deal of 


sentiment in nature, but it is an ideal quality that 
the photographic camera is no more capable of 
reproducing than it is of reproducing true perspec- 
tive. " Photographic accuracy " is, by the way, 
an expression which contradicts itself ; for photo- 
graphs, however definite and seemingly exact they 
may be, are by no means accurate — a fact that 
is specially emphasized by this very matter of per- 
spective, a perspective photograph of rectangular 
buildings always making the right angles nearest 
the eye appear to be sharply acute. 

Sentiment in a picture is something indefinable, 
— an effect produced upon the emotions through 
the eyes. It is a word which, with the vford feelings 
is much abused in this connection. These terms 
are so vague that they defy analysis, and are often 
employed to turn the edge of deserved criticism, 
directed toward faults of incompetence and care- 
lessness. Nevertheless, they have a real meaning, 
just as the emotions have a real existence, although 
an intangible one. " The poetry of earth is never 
dead," and the true landscape artist feels this, find- 
ing in the scene before him something beyond the 
actual, material forms which are visible to his phys- 
ical eye. What he sees produces in him a mental 
impression of melancholy, cheerfulness, repose, des- 
olation, or disturbance, and his skill lies in making 
his picture convey to the observer the same im- 


pression that he himself received from the real 
scene. It is impossible to give directions for put- 
ting sentiment into a picture, because sentiment 
depends entirely upon the appeal the landscape 
makes to the emotions of the painter, and if it 
does not make an appeal, he cannot paint it as if 
it did. His work may be correct technically, and 
he may have his color under entire control, but 
his picture will lack feeling. 

The student cannot, of course, expect to intro- 
duce into his sketches an abstract ideal element, 
which is so intangible that experienced artists can- 
not always catch it and fix it upon the paper 
satisfactorily. He must first acquire an under- 
standing of color and a deftness in using it, as well 
as a knowledge of the mechanical resources at his 
disposal. Nevertheless, he can, from the begin- 
ning, try to see nature in the right way, and to 
bring himself into sympathy with nature's moods. 
As there can be no sentiment in a picture with- 
out a corresponding sentiment in the person who 
makes the picture, the student should encourage 
himself in the habit of contemplating natural 
scenes (quite apart from an immediate intention 
to paint them) with the intellectual as well as the 
bodily eye. Habits of receptiveness and apprecia- 
tion will be of the utmost benefit to him in his 
future work. 


There is another reason, besides that of imbuing 
himself with sympathy, for the student to give at- 
tention to the face of nature whenever he has an 
opportunity. The landscape artist has to rely 
largely on memory in making his pictures, be- 
cause the light is always changing, and some of 
the phases he depicts — as dawn, sunset, and twi- 
light — are extremely transitory. A mind trained 
to take in and retain facts of form, color, and gen- 
eral proportion, and well stored with such recol- 
lections, is of the greatest value to him. 

The student of Landscape and Marine painting, 
as of Flower painting, should begin by copying 
water color facsimiles ; and he must be positively 
sure that they are facsimiles of water colors, be- 
cause facsimiles of oil studies are much more dif- 
ficult to copy in water colors, and are not of so 
much benefit to the copyist. Something small in 
size and simple in treatment should be chosen, and 
the student should examine it carefully, and try 
to analyze its coloring before beginning to paint, 
because he cannot pause indefinitely to consider 
matters when he has begun to put color on the 

The instruction here given for color-handling in 
landscape work is quite different from that given 
for flowers, and is based on other principles. 
Broad, general effects are aimed at,' with very 


little definite detail. The aspects of nature are to 
be suggested, rather than accurately defined,, but 
in the effort to avoid hardness, there must be no 
degeneration into woolly softness. 

The preliminary pencil sketch for a landscape 
or marine view is therefore very slight. The hori- 
zon line is indicated, and the conspicuous trees, 
buildings, or boats, drawn in. If the landscape has 
water in the foreground, that also is outlined. If 
the foliage of the trees is very thin and light, 
it need not be sketched at all, the trunk and 
branches only being shown; if it is heavy, an in- 
dication of the large masses will suflSce. Dim, 
distant trees are not given, and no detail whatever 
is put in with the pencil. When the moon or the 
sun appears, however, it must be drawn with per- 
fect accuracy, and its shape must not be marred 
in the subsequent painting, for any defect in the 
curve will be painfully obvious. 

In either copying or working from nature, the 
sky is first put in. The paper may be previously 
moistened with clean water, or not, as the student 
prefers. If there are light-colored sails, buildings, 
or foreground trees against the sky, or brilliant, 
definite cloud edges, for which the paper must be 
left white, it is better not to dampen the surface, 
as, if it is wet, the color will creep into the spaces 
which ought to be kept free from it. 


Beginning at the top, the upper tint of the sky 
is applied, not in one great, sloppy wash, but by 
a series of touches with the point of the brush, 
working horizontally across the paper, and always 
in the same direction. The color is used quite 
wet, and is not allowed to dry at all, along the 
edge. If it shows any tendency to dry at one 
end, while the paint is being carried on toward 
the other, it must be softened off with a clean, 
wet brush, and thus kept moist until work is re- 
sumed at that point. If the sky is a cloudless 
one, as is often seen, it will be darker toward the 
zenith ; therefore, at the top, the color mixed for 
it is carried across the paper in full strength, but 
as the sky is brought lower, the color is weak- 
ened by dipping the brush in water, diluting the 
tint gradually more and more, until it is of the 
required pallor at the horizon. In the case of a 
cloudless sky which changes color as it goes down- 
Ward, — if it is blue toward the zenith, for exam- 
ple, melting into pink at the horizon, — after the 
color of the upper part has been put in, to the 
proper extent, the brush is rinsed in clean water, 
and dipped into the color for the lower part, 
which is then worked in in the same way, the 
edges of the upper color being kept so moist that 
the lower color blends with it. An ample quan- 
tity of color must be mixed beforehand, so that 


there will be no danger of the tint giving out be- 
fore the sky is completed. 

Care must be taken not to have the color too 
v^et, and not to put on too much at a time ; for it 
must be kept under perfect control, so that it may 
be guided as the painter wishes. Also, the stu- 
dent must never go back and try to touch up 
partly dry color, for that will spoil it. The prac- 
tice of making graduated washes, which was recom- 
mended in the Introduction, is of great help to 
the landscape painter, as it teaches him to govern 
the depth of his color and its direction. Similar 
washes, changing from one color to another, are 
of equal assistance for the same purpose. 

When tree trunks, sails, buildings, or other ob- 
jects coming against the sky, are lighter than the 
sky, the sky wash must be worked around them, 
and it must also be worked around white clouds 
and the sun and moon ; but when objects coming 
against the sky are darker than the sky, the sky 
wash may be carried down to the beginning of the 
horizontal plane, and softened off there with clean 
water. In such cases as where a yellow mass of 
foliage comes against a blue sky, the sky wash 
must be softened off with clean water within the 
limits of the mass of foliage, so that when the yel- 
low foliage color is painted in, there will be no 
previous tint of blue to counteract it ; but the sky 


wash must not be softened off too soon, or it will 
appear paler immediately around the foliage, which 
will give a bad effect. 

When the sky is of delicately varied tints, but 
the clouds have no distinct and definite borders, 
either bright or dark, the brush is dipped first in 
one color, a little of which is carried along the 
paper, then in another color, which is allowed to 
run in with the first, where they adjoin. For 
lighter places in the sky, the brush is dipped in 
clean water. The student must bear in mind that 
the edges along which he is working, are to be 
kept constantly moist, for any hard lines in a sky 
spoil it. The washes for these beautifully tinted, 
indistinctly cloudy skies are sometimes more effec- 
tive if the slope of the working surface — which 
is usually downward, toward the worker — is re- 
versed from time to time, so that the color settles 
a little, thereby giving a look of rotundity here 
and there, as if the clouds were somewhat heavier 
in places. The color must not be wet enough to 
run back over that part of the sky which is already 
finished and dry^ for it will then form hard lines. 

It is important that the student should remem- 
ber to begin at the top of the paper and work 
across it laterally, going downward gradually by 
horizontal stages. He is to use a large brush full 
of color, but is to put on only a little color at a 


time, and to guide it carefully with the point of 
the brush. He is never to stop his sky wash in a 
sharp line at the horizon, allowing it to settle, but 
is to keep the edge soft. 

When there are clouds lighter or more brilliant 
than the sky itself, — white clouds in a blue sky, 
for example, or golden sunset clouds in a pink sky, 
— the sky wash must be worked around them ; but 
whether the clouds shall be softened at the edges 
or not, depends upon their character. Some white 
clouds are very hazy about the borders, while some 
sunset clouds are very distinct. It is better never 
to sketch in a cloud with the pencil, unless such an 
indication is absolutely necessary. The preferable 
way is to learn to have sufficient accuracy of eye 
and touch so that clouds may be put in without 
any preliminary drawing. Golden or other lumi- 
nous, colored clouds, which are left white when the 
sky tone is washed around them, may be given 
their proper tint after the sky is dry ; not before, 
else the sky and cloud color will be apt to run to- 

When the sky is heavily clouded toward the 
zenith, but the clouds stop abruptly toward the 
horizon, showing a clear band of sky, the cloudy 
part of the sky is modeled in its various tints, as 
has been described, but is not softened off where 
it ends, the shape of the uneven clouds at the edge 


being distinctly shown. The tint of the clear band 
of sky is washed in after the clouds are dry, other- 
wise the cloud tint will run down and spoil it. 

In the case of dark, windy skies, with spaces of 
clear blue or yellow showing between the clouds, 
the clouds are worked around these spaces, which 
are left white and afterward tinted. The color for 
such spaces, and for tingeing the sun and moon, 
must never be used very wet, as it requires to be 
perfectly flat, and if it runs, it will be liable to 

When clouds have narrow, fiery edges, as is 
sometimes the case in stormy sunsets, these edges 
are left pure white. If the general tone of the 
sky is pale, and there are definite darker clouds, 
the sky wash is carried on without regard to the 
clouds, which are painted over it after it is dry. 

•Color must never be permitted to settle in a 
hard, dark outline around the sun or moon or 
clouds, no matter how clear and distinct these ob- 
jects may be, for sharp lines destroy the effect of 

Lightning is not a desirable thing to paint, be- 
cause its instantaneous character is one of its chief 
peculiarities, and when it is depicted, it becomes a 
steady effect of light, like sunshine or moonlight, 
and so loses something of its real nature. If it is 
to enter into the picture, however, the sky must 


be worked around it, and the white paper left to 
represent it. 

When a sky has *een worked up in too high a 
key of color, it may sometimes be improved by 
sponging it in a crosswise direction with clean 
water. The sky must be thoroughly dry before 
the sponging is begun, and the sponge must be 
constantly squeezed in fresh water, to free it from 
the color it collects, otherwise the color will be 
re-distributed in streaks. 

The horizontal plane is the next thing to be 
considered. It begins where the sky touches the 
earth. Sometimes the far-away horizon line is 
visible, sometimes it is concealed by distant trees 
— which are not yet to receive attention ; but in 
either case, it is best to start it before the sky is 
quite dry, in order that there may be no hard line 
of division between the two, but that their junction 
may be softened a little. Sharp definiteness hope- 
lessly destroys distance, and is therefore to be 
sedulously avoided, except for the extreme fore- 
ground. When the sky is cut by hills, rocks, or 
buildings near at hand, their outlines are, of course, 
more distinct. 

The horizontal plane is begun at the top and 
worked across the surface, like the sky, but the 
coloring is heavier and less diffused, the general 
tone being given rather by minute touches of pure 


color, allowed to run together and mingle on the 
paper, than by large, even washes of subdued 
mixed color. The tints in the «iiddle distance are 
deeper than those in the foreground, and all lines 
occurring there are kept as level as possible, to 
aid the receding effect. Toward the front of the 
picture, the touches become somewhat larger, and 
the coloring lighter and more brilliant. If there 
is water in the foreground, it must be left white, 
its own tone being added afterward. 

After the sky and foreground are in, the other 
features of the picture may receive attention. 
Buildings should not be worked up with a great 
deal of architectural detail. Such detail should 
be correct as far as it goes, but it should be sim- 
ply suggested. All color in buildings and rocks 
should be given its full value. 

It is not necessary to sketch in masses of dis- 
tant foliage against the sky, for any hint of an out- 
line injures the far-away aspect. Growth of this 
sort should be worked upward from the ground, 
becoming lighter as it ascends, to give the effect 
of gradual thinning near the top. The same prin- 
ciple of broken color should prevail here as in the 
foreground ; that is, if the general tone be grayish 
purple, instead of one flat tint of that color being 
washed in, small touches of red and blue should 
be employed, the paint being kept wet enough 


to mingle on the paper. At the top, the hazy 
effect of thin twigs or leafage may be obtained by 
scratching the wet color upward with an ordinary 
bristle brush, or it may be lightly rubbed with the 
cle^n finger. If darker tree trunks show, they 
may'^be delicately indicated afterward. There 
should be no hard line where the trees join the 

The student must never forget that color, which 
seems strong when it is put on decidedly wet, will 
dry out very much lighter, and he must guide 
himself accordingly, otherwise his picture will look 
flat and weak when it is finished. 

Near-by tree trunks are also to be worked up- 
ward, the general tone being obtained by inter- 
mingled tints. If the trees are bare, the boughs 
and branches must, of course, be shown, and may 
be painted in the same way ; but if they are in 
leaf, the anatomy is simply hinted at between 
masses of foliage, the latter being put in with 
small touches, more distinct in the trees nearest 
the eye. The leafage toward the extremities 
should be very lightly indicated, and spaces should 
be left where the sky shows through it. The 
anatomy of terminal twigs is not to be painted in 
at all, a few small, detached touches rendering the 
final scattered leaves. 

Water in the foreground reflects the color of 


the sky, or of its immediate environment, but 
when reflections of objects occur, this general 
tint need not be washed in until after the reflec- 
tions are painted. These reflections are worked 
downward vertically, and sometimes have a faint 
suggestion of lines ; they do not end sharply, but 
fray off into nothing. Ripples are often rendered 
by leaving horizontal, broken lines of white paper, 
and these lines must be respected when the main 
tone of the water is washed in. 

Immediate foreground details, such as bushes, 
stones, and grasses, may be painted with a small 
brush, if the student prefers. They are the most 
definite things in the picture, and the paper should 
be dry when they are put in, so that they will 
remain distinct. 

In marine pictures, if the horizon line is visible, 
it should be made evident by a slight difference in 
tone between the sky and sea, but should never be 
hard ; and above all things, it should be absolutely 
level. The coloring of water must be made much 
more even, delicate, and gradual than that of land, 
more like sky coloring in fact, and all distant 
effects be kept horizontal. As the waves approach 
the front of the picture, their curved or pointed 
shape may be more clearly shown. If there are 
no high lights nor white foam, a light wash of the 
general color may be carried down to the edge of 


the picture, and the shape of the waves indicated 
by painting the shadows in their hollows ; but for 
all whites, the white paper must be left. 

When the horizon line does not appear, as in 
misty views, the sea wash may be carried on as 
a continuation of the sky wash, the two melting 
together imperceptibly ; and if any boats are in- 
troduced, they should be painted in a much flatter 
way than if the air were clear, no sharp edges 
being shown. 

When there are light sails on the horizon or 
elsewhere, the sky or sea wash must be carried 
around them, but where the sails are darker, they 
may be painted in afterward, when the paper is 
dry. The nearer a boat is to the foreground, with 
the more detail may it be painted, but the cordage 
should never be worked up with too great minute- 

The student should make a number of copies 
from good water color facsimiles, keeping in line 
with these general directions, before he attempts to 
work from nature ; for he needs to possess control 
over his color and some knowledge of how various 
effects are gained, when he begins to do out-of- 
door work. One of the most difficult things he 
has to learn, is this mechanical mastery of paint. 
The wetter it is, the more apt it is to escape him 
and to run here, or form a hard line there, before 


he knows it. The small touches of pure color 
which he employs, must mingle on the paper, and 
yet keep their clearness, for if they run together in 
such a way as to become muddy, the charm of the 
picture is gone. 

When the student is going to paint from a real 
landscape, he must first decide how much of it he 
intends to include in his picture. He may make 
up his mind more easily on this point, if he looks 
at the landscape between his hands. The horizon 
line is first to be indicated, and it is best never to 
allo\y it to divide the picture exactly in the middle. 
The limits of the foreground are then to be defined 
by sketching in the rocks, water, trees, or build- 
ings in the front of the picture. Distant foliage 
against the sky, need not be shown at all by the 
pencil, unless it is lighter than the sky, and there- 
fore to be left white. The same may be said of 
distant mountains ; if they are darker than the sky, 
they need not be drawn, but may be painted in 
afterward, over the sky wash ; if they are paler, the 
outline must be indicated, and the sky wash must 
not be carried over it. 

The student must try to see the landscape as 
broadly and simply as possible, taking in general 
effects of form and color, rather than details. He 
must avoid the employment of hard, cutting lines, 
and must restrict all definite minutiae to the fore- 


ground. He should put in his picture only so 
much of what he sees as will give the impression 
he desires to convey, and when he has attained 
his object, he should stop. There is a great deal 
in knowing when one has done enough. A lack 
of this knowledge sometimes causes even an expe- 
rienced person to work up a really creditable and 
pleasing sketch into an unsatisfactory picture. 
The spirit of water color landscapes lies in effect, 
not in high finish, and when the effect has been 
gained, the work is virtually completed. 

The less the surface is worked over, the fresher 
and clearer the color will be. It is always desi- 
rable to strike the right depth of tone for the sky 
wash at once, and so avoid the necessity of going 
over it again, for a second wash will detract from 
the atmospheric transparency ; but if the sky is 
found to be too weak, a second wash will be neces- 
sary, which must not be put on until the first is dry. 

Rough paper is better than smooth, for land- 
scapes and marines, as the inequalities assist in 
softening the distance, and give texture to the 
foreground. Moreover, it is often desirable to 
allow infinitesimal flecks of white paper to remain 
visible, here and there, in the horizontal plane, to 
give it vitality, and these are more easily and nat- 
urally left when color is washed on a rough surface. 

The anatomy of trees is very important in land- 


scape work. Every sort of tree has its own pecu- 
liarity of shape and growth, and the artist must 
appreciate these peculiarities in order to paint trees 
so that they are recognizable. An apple tree is 
different from a meadow elm, and that again from 
an oak, and each kind should be as plainly charac- 
teristic in a picture as it is in nature, even though 
its character be expressed very simply. The form 
of the trunk, the way the boughs diverge from it, 
the ramifications of the branches, are all individual 
and significant, and should never be indicated igno- 
rantly and carelessly. The student will gain much 
valuable knowledge and practice by making sepa- 
rate water color studies of detached trees, not 
necessarily elaborating them, but representing as 
truly as possible their general appearance and 
habit. It is well to have an ordinary sketch-book, 
in which pencil memoranda may be jotted down, — 
sketches of branches and leafage, suggestions of 
boats, birds, or buoys, peculiarities of rock forma- 
tion, picturesque outlines of buildings, or pleasing 
cloud shapes, — for these are frequently useful as 
a reference. Colored studies of skies are also val- 
uable, especially of the fleeting, changeable tints 
of dawn and sunset. They must nearly always be 
made more or less fr®m memory, as the light is 
often too dim for painting to be done at the actual 


If any serious mistake occurs in putting in a sky 
or foreground, it is best to immediately sponge out 
the whole thing, and begin over again as soon as 
the paper is in proper condition; for patched-up, 
mended work is usually muddy and unsatisfactory. 
If the color has not had time to dry into the sur- 
face, it may be almost entirely removed by careful 
sponging with clean water. In case a defect occurs 
in the sky near the location of a tree, the foliage 
can sometimes be made to conceal it, and in that 
case it may be allowed to remain. 

As the light is continually changing, and varies 
greatly at different times of day, out-of-door work 
cannot be carried on continuously on the same 
picture. . If a study from nature is begun in the 
morning, it must be laid aside as soon as the 
actual view has lost its early light and coloring, 
else the character of the picture will not be main- 
tained. Landscapes painted in the studio are 
either sketches done from memory, or pictures 
worked up from careful memoranda made from 
the real scene at the real time. 

The tone of a landscape is different at different 
hours of the day, and on different days. At dawn 
and after sunset it is of a subdued pitch, while 
during the forenoon and afternoon, in clear weather, 
the key is high. On hazy days the coloring is 
soft and subtle; and rain and heavy clouds take 


it nearly all away, and give a general aspect of 

If the student finds that his foreground is too 
patchy or too cold, he can sometimes **pull it 
together," as it is called, by carrying a general 
wash of yellow all over it, which will blend the 
colors to a certain extent, and give them warmth. 
If the tone is already warm enough, a wash of pure 
water may be used instead, which will soften the 
patchiness a little. 

The beginner should learn discretion in selecting 
his subjects. There are many objects in nature 
which are pleasing in themselves, but do not make 
a pleasing picture. For example, a tree full of red 
apples is a beautiful sight, but in a picture it does 
not show to advantage. At the distance from the 
spectator at which it must be placed, in order to 
give a view of it as a whole, the fruit appears 
simply like red specks ; for apples grow in so scat- 
tered a way that they do not form a mass of color, 
but are simply individual details. When growing 
apples are to be painted, it is better to choose a 
single, small, well-loaded branch, instead of a whole 
tree, for the branch may be represented as close 
to the eye, and the fruit shown of life size, and 
properly modeled. 

With regard to general coloring, it may be said 
that blue and purple give distance ; reds, browns, 


and moderate greens are useful in the middle 
plane ; while vivid yellows and greens, with all sharp 
contrasts, should be reserved for the foreground, 
as they have a natural tendency to come forward 
toward the eye. Bright pigments may be em- 
ployed for sunny scenes of the middle day, but 
more subdued colors for morning and evening 

Aureolin is of too lively a character for exten- 
sive use in landscape work. Its luminous quality 
makes it valuable for effects of brilliant sunshine, 
and for particularly gorgeous sunset and sunrise 
skies. It is also a desirable color to wash over the 
sun itself,, when that orb is visible, and may be 
employed alone, or with the Cadmiums. 

The Cadmiums, because of their aggressive ten- 
dency, should generally be confined to foreground 
use, and should not appear in large quantities. 
As a rule, it is better not to mix them with other 
colors, with the exception of Aureolin and Car- 

Indian Yellow is a paint of universal utility. It 
gives soft, clear sunset and sunrise yellows, and en- 
ters largely into the coloring of green and autum- 
nal grasses and foliage. It is also used in water 

Yellow Ochre is a fine landscape color. It gives 
good effects of distant sunlight on sails or rocks, 


and is serviceable in buildings, stretches of sand, 
and throughout the horizontal plane generally, but 
is rather earthy for employment in skies. In com- 
bination with New Blue, it yields soft, quiet greens 
for moderately distant or shadowed foliage, and it 
is also valuable in autumnal scenes. 

Emerald Green is used entirely pure. In pale 
washes it is exceedingly effective introduced into 
certain sorts of skies, and is also a desirable ele- 
ment in foregrounds of pictures painted in a high 
key of color, but it must be employed in small 
masses only. 

Hooker's Green No. 2 may be combined with 
Aureolin, and used in a light tone, for the trans- 
parent green sometimes seen in sunset skies. 
Alone or in combination, it enters into foliage 
and foregrounds, and gives a good effect in ma- 
rine work. 

Prussian Blue may be employed in greenish 
skies, and for water and distance, and is an ele- 
ment in bright foliage and grass greens. Like 
all the blues and greens, it may appear in a pure 
state among the minute touches which are em- 
ployed to give the general effect of broken color 
in the horizontal plane. 

Indigo is too flat for atmospheric tones, but is 
otherwise used like Prussian Blue. 

French Blue is employed for skies and distance, 


alone or as an element of purple. It is of value 
in some water effects. 

New Blue is highly desirable for skies, alone or 
mixed with Light Red. With the latter, it makes 
fine grays and purplish tones for clouds and dis- 
tance ; for far-away, indistinct foliage and tree 
trunks, the two are used in small touches, and 
allowed to mingle on the paper. New Blue com- 
bined with Carmine gives good aerial purples for 
clear skies and delicate distance. 

Permanent Violet is used in tiny touches of 
broken color. 

Rose Madder is employed for pink skies, but 
would better be avoided for other purposes. 

Carmine, like Permanent Violet, is used spar- 
ingly in tiny touches of pure color, and also as an 
element of purple. Pale washes may be introduced 
into quiet sunsets, but scarlet lights are obtained 
by using a strong mixture of Carmine and Orange 

Light Red is a serviceable color for sky, earth, 
and sea. It makes good grays in combination 
with other colors, and is used alone in light washes 
for evening skies. For buildings, autumn foliage, 
and foreground touches it is likewise of value, and 
for ruddy sails. 

Indian Red is too dull for skies, but is a good 
red for general middle and foreground purposes. 


Burnt Sienna is a valuable color for foregrounds 
and middle distance. It is useful in buildings and 
autumn effects, and also makes good greens with 
Hooker's Green No. 2. 

The uses of Brown Ochre are similar to those 
of Yellow Ochre, but it gives deeper tones. 

The two Umbers, with Vandyke Brown and 
Sepia, are used for various purposes where very 
dark tones are required, and for brown effects of 
tree trunks, shadows, buildings, rocks, and sharp 
foreground items. 

As no petty details are introduced in ordinary 
landscape work, it is better to avoid the employ- 
ment of Chinese White altogether, as it gives an 
extremely solid and definite effect. 

The student will readily understand that a mere 
hint of the use of particular colors has been given. 
Their general qualities only have been touched 
upon, and their most obvious purposes alone men- 
tioned. Many landscape artists work, in water 
color, with an exceedingly small palette, — perhaps 
a dozen pigments, — and every painter has his own 
pet list. All the colors named are not requisite 
lor landscapes and marines, but only experience 
can teach the student what special selection will 
suit his individual style of work. 

The introduction of figures and animals into the 
landscape has not received particular notice, be- 


cause such items are simple details, and require 
no different treatment from other details. They 
are suggestions of life, — touches of color, — and 
are not to be regarded as of any importance in 

Finally, to summarize the whole matter in a few 
words, the student must copy until he understands 
how to control his color, and how to set to work 
to reproduce a scene ; he must see nature as simply 
and broadly as possible, and render it by small 
touches of pure color, permitted to mingle on the 
paper ; he must avoid muddiness ; he must render 
tree forms truly ; and he must stop when he has 
gone far enough. 

■ rmti. I *'a < ^^ -^Mh'«*"fe i ^ 


Figure and Animal painting are very much 
more difficult branches of art than Flower, Fruit, 
Still Life, Landscape, or Marine painting ; that is, 
it is less easy for an inexperienced person to pro- 
duce a pleasing effect in the first-named branches 
than in the others, and to escape meriting severe 
criticism. Long and patient study of form, and 
light and shade as expressed in black-and-white, 
is necessary before the pupil is justified in touch- 
ing color ; for the problems of proportion and fore- 
shortening are more readily overcome if they are 



separated from the problems presented by poly- 
chromatic work. The management of water color, 
as a medium, although it is sufficiently trouble- 
some, is the least of tne obstacles which must be 
overcome by the student ambitious to paint figures 
and animals. 

A preliminary course of drawing from the cast 
and from life, is indispensable to a proper under- 
standing and rendering of either figures or animals. 
For the figure, casts of the best antique statues 
are chosen as models, because they elevate the 
taste as well as educate the eye ; and^ by studying 
them, the pupil not only attains a knowledge of 
form and proportion, but learns to appreciate ab- 
stract beauty. For animals, casts from modern 
sculpture are chiefly selected, the antique offering 
comparatively few examples of animal representa- 
tion. Barye, the French sculptor, is an authority 
in this department of art, and plaster casts of 
many of his works, reduced in size, are to be 
obtained everywhere. 

Charcoal or crayon is used in this preliminary 
course of drawing. The shadows are put on in 
either lines or blocked masses, the latter being the 
broader, simpler way, and giving a better under- 
standing of the subject, as a whole. With many 
artists, there is a prejudice against stump work, — 
that is, crayon or charcoal rubbed on in bulk with 


a stump, or with the finger enveloped in a bit of 
wash leather, as distinguished from line work done 
with a point, — but this prejudice is probably due 
to the fact that, by employing the stump, the in- 
experienced pupil is often betrayed into errors of 
woolliness and weakness, and in his admiration for 
smooth tints and even gradations of shadow, sacri- 
fices force and character. It is possible, however, 
to maintain both these desirable qualities when 
working with the stump, and the method of pro- 
cedure is much more like painting than is working 
with the point. 

If the student of figures or animals, who is at 
the very beginning of his career, has already defi- 
nitely decided to be a water colorist, his best 
course will be to adopt water color as his medium 
at once, and to make wash drawings in black-and- 
white, both from the cast and from life, in prefer- 
ence to using either charcoal or crayon. He will 
thus learn the mechanical handling of the medium 
at the same time that he learns to draw. 

A knowledge of external anatomy is absolutely 
necessary to success in figure and animal represen- 
tation. The artist may not be able to call the dif- 
ferent bony protuberances, muscles and tendons 
which are visible, by their names, but he must 
know that they are there, and must be aware what 
purpose they subserve, and how they appear under 


different conditions of action and repose. Inces- 
sant observation is the one true method by which 
this knowledge may be obtained, and it is worth a 
score of scientific text-books for giving the student 
a true appreciation of form, attitude, and motion. 

One of the most striking characteristics of hu- 
man beings and animals is action. The word 
actioft does not always imply positive movement 

— it also means the poise of the body. According 
to Webster, action is " the attitude or position of 
the several parts of the body, as expressive of the 
sentiment or passion depicted,'* or of the physical 
state of being, might be added. Thus the picture 
of a sleeping dog may be said to have action, in- 
asmuch as the pose in which he is represented 
expresses, or makes evident, the fact that he is 
sleeping. Upon the ability of the artist's eye to 
appreciate, and of his hand to reproduce, those 
subtleties of outline and modeling which serve to 
express action, depends his success as a delineator 
of living creatures. 

- The advisability of carrying an ordinary sketch- 
book, and jotting down in it pencil memoranda of 
such effects as strike the observation, has already 
been mentioned ; but if this practice is helpful to 
workers in other branches of art, it is doubly so to 
the figure and animal painter, for he cannot look 
about him without seeing innumerable useful mod- 


els. In his own household, in the street, wherever 
he goes, men, women, children, horses, dogs, cats* 
or cows, present themselves to his eye in all sorts 
of circumstances and attitudes. The habit of ob- 
serving striking or characteristic positions, and 
sketching them as quickly and accurately as pos- 
sible, even if only in outline, is of inestimable 
value in training the hand, as well as in accustom- 
ing the eye to at once seize the salient points of 
an object or scene, in preference to unimportant 
details. Moreover, it cultivates the memory ; and 
as all movement is transitory, a faithful memory is 
of great worth when an attempt is made to repre- 
sent motion. A hand-organ man grinding his in- 
strument, a newsboy shouting extras, a bootblack 
polishing shoes, a cat washing her face, a dray- 
horse biting at his mate — a thousand such dis- 
solving views are presented to the student's eye 
every day, and each one offers him an opportunity 
of educating himself in the artistic expression of 
form and action. In the beginning, his efforts to 
reproduce the spirit of what he sees, will undoubt- 
edly be futile, and the result perhaps incomprehen- 
sible ; but with practice he will learn to discern at 
a glance the essential features of what he observes, 
and to transfer them quickly and truly to paper, 
disregarding all that is not requisite to properly 
convey the idea. 


Any error in drawing or foreshortening is much 
more obvious and annoying in figure and animal 
work than it is in other departments of art, and 
for this reason, the amateur who is only working 
for amusement would better confine himself to sub- 
jects requiring less precise knowledge. Nothing 
is more irritating to an educated eye than igno- 
rant, misshapen representations of men and beasts 
— and such representations are but too often seen. 
An amount of skill which will enable a person to 
make a picture of flowers or of a landscape that 
will be at least inoffensive, will not be sufficient to 
warrant him in undertaking work of the higher 
and more exacting class. Perhaps the commonest 
examples of the caricatures of the human form 
divine which are perpetrated by incompetence, are 
those presented by painted tapestry. This tapestry 
is to be met with everywhere, — in shops, hotels, 
and private houses, — and in nineteen cases out of 
twenty, it is execrable, in spite of the time and 
pains which have obviously been devoted to laying 
on the color. 

The necessity for a thorough practical knowledge 
of figure and animal drawing being thus demon- 
strated and insisted upon, the possession of such 
knowledge on the part of the pupil will hereafter 
be assumed. It will be taken for granted that he 
knows how to give his subjects a firm foothold 

SO that they do not present an uncertain, toppling 
appearance, and that he understands the general 
principles of foreshortening. This ability will 
have been acquired during his course of black-and- 
white work from the cast and the living model, and 
need not be again mentioned. 

All professional artists agree that much more is 
to be learned by painting from the undraped figure 
than from the figure veiled and disguised by cloth- 
ing ; but the average amateur has no opportunity 
for life study from the nude, and the next best 
thing for him to do, is to work from such costume 
models as are not so over-burdened and muflfled by 
clothing that the contours of the body are con- 
cealed. Clinging draperies, which follow the lines 
of the figure, are to be preferred to those which 
are full and ample, and the neck, arms, and feet 
should be left uncovered. The bare feet, in par- 
ticular, are diflftcult to paint correctly, and require 
special study. The clothing, whatever its style, 
should never be represented as a mere mass of 
drapery from which the extremities of the figure 
project, but should conform itself to the shape of 
the body it covers, in such a way that the presence 
of the body, and its general form and proportions, 
are felt underneath the fabric. 

In the same way, the shape of the head should 
not be entirely lost in masses of floating hair, but 


should always be indicated, no matter how slightly, 
as should the shape of the chin, jaw, and mouth 
under an ample beard. In long-haired animals, 
like the Skye terrier, the form of the body beneath 
the shaggy coat should likewise be regarded. All 
such contours are to be observed in nature, and 
must not be ignored in representations of nature. 

Animals and little children cannot, of course, be 
compelled to take, or to maintain, whatever atti- 
tude the artist fancies. He must make the most 
of those moments when such an attitude is acci- 
dentally assumed, and should spend them in look- 
ing at his model rather than in painting, because 
he must work largely from recollection. With men 
and women, however, it is a much simpler matter, 
as they may be placed in any reasonable pose, and 
relied upon to keep it indefinitely, and to return 
to it again after resting. For figures in violent 
action, such as running, jumping, and dancing, the 
artist must, of necessity, fall back upon a care- 
fully educated memory, as attitudes of motion are, 
naturally, of but momentary duration. 

For youthful figures, standing poses, or poses in- 
dicating movement of some sort, are most appro- 
priate and suggestive, while the attitude of old 
persons should generally be expressive of repose. 
In planning an animal picture, some position char- 
acteristic of the subject should be chosen. For 


example, both a cow and a dog can run ; but a 
cow runs very infrequently, compared with a dog, 
and therefore, while the attitude of running would 
be an entirely suitable one in which to represent 
a dog, it would not be particularly suitable for a 
cow. The pictured position should be such as sug- 
gests some conspicuous natural trait of the animal. 
Running implies speed. Although a cow moves 
rapidly upon occasion, she does not do it grace- 
fully, and speed is not her special attribute, calm 
and repose being more characteristic of her nature. 
Kittens, on the contrary, are seldom depicted as 
sleeping, or even lying down quietly, not because 
they do not do those things, but because extreme 
activity is one of their most noticeable peculiari- 

For figure work in the house, the light should 
fall from a sufficient height to throw the shadows 
downward ; and the model should not be placed 
too close to the source of light, otherwise the shad- 
ows will be sharp and hard. The model is usually 
posed on a higher level than that occupied by the 
artist, who sits or stands at a distance sufficiently 
great to prevent abrupt foreshortening, and to en- 
able him to take in the whole figure at one glance. 
In general figure painting, more striking effects 
of light and shade are permissible than in portrai- 
ture, where a good likeness and the preservation 


of the personality are special requisites, to which 
mere picturesqueness must be sacrificed, if neces- 
sary. For portraits of old persons, however, an 
arrangement of strong light and shadow is some- 
times pleasing. 

In ordinary figure studies, there is no necessity 
for giving particular attention to the actual indi- 
viduality of the model, the aim being to produce a 
pleasing and effective picture, not a precise like- 
ness. The artist poses and illuminates the figure 
with sole reference to how it will best illustrate 
that which he has it in his mind to represent, — a 
street beggar, a workman at labor, or whatsoever 
his chosen theme may be, — and does not concern 
himself with any peculiarities of the model which 
do not have a bearing on that particular subject. 
Posing a sitter for a portrait, however, is quite a 
different matter. Everything is then calculated 
with the idea of bringing into favorable prominence 
the personality of the model. An attitude is se- 
lected in which defects are obscured and beauties 
are made more evident ; the light is so arranged 
as to show the features to the best advantage, and 
the coloring of the drapery and background is 
made entirely subservient to the interest of the 
face and form. 

Individuality is often as marked in the turn of 
the head, the inclination of the body, and the gen- 


eral carriage, as it is in the countenance, and care 
should be taken not to pose the sitter for a por- 
trait in an uncharacteristic position, even if it be 
otherwise suitable. Persons who have no self- 
consciousness, or who are so accustomed to the 
thought of being looked at that it does not discon- 
cert them, usually fall into any required position 
easily and naturally ; but with the average sitter, 
there is often some little difficulty to overcome, 
such as stiffness, or a set, artificial expression, and 
it is not easy to at once ascertain what is the 
natural manner and aspect. In such a case, it is 
better not to attempt to settle the pose at once, but 
to incite the model to move about and converse. 
Characteristic attitudes and expressions will thus 
be unconsciously revealed, and the painter may 
study them and decide what is most desirable, be- 
fore the sitter is aware that the question of the 
pose has been considered at all. 

When more than the bust is shown, the hands 
are usually included. Both hands, or neither, 
should be introduced into a picture, as, if only one 
is seen, there will be an uncertainty as to the ex- 
istence of the other. Some portrait painters make 
a practice of departing from the truth as soon as 
they leave the face, and of idealizing the hands 
and arms of their sitters beyond recognition. This 
is a decided fault, no matter how artistically the 


work is done. There is as much personality in 
hands as there is in faces, and in many cases, the 
hands are of great assistance in giving character 
to a portrait. The fact that the hands and arms 
of the Venus de Medici are beautiful, is no more 
reason for using them as models in the portrait 
of a modern woman, instead of the woman's own 
hands and arms, than the fact that the statue's face 
is beautiful, is a reason for substituting it for the 
woman's face. 

The action of a figure, human or animal, is shown 
first by the outline, and then by the modeling of 
the muscles. The pencil outline defines the form, 
and is the first step toward making a picture, 
modeling being a matter of light and shade, and 
not of line. It is best to block in. roughly the 
general proportions and attitude of the body, before 
perfecting the drawing, regarding it as a whole 
first, and indicating the details of the contours 
afterward. This method of working gives more 
freedom. and vigor to the figure^ more ** snap," as 
artists say. 

As it is highly necessary to keep the paper per- 
fectly clean and fresh for water color work, the 
preliminary sketch would better be made on another 
piece of paper, and transferred to the actual sur- 
face after it has been perfected. The best means 
for transferring it is to lay a piece of tracing paper 


over the sketch and trace it accurately with a rather 
hard, finely pointed pencil, then to turn the tracing 
paper over, and follow the lines of tracing on the 
wrong side with an HB pencil. When this is 
done, if the tracing paper be laid right side up on 
the water color paper, firmly held so that it will 
not slip, and the tracing be followed over again 
with the hard pencil, the sketch will be transferred 
to the water color paper so cl-early that there will 
be no need of strengthening it. So comparatively 
long a process can be adopted only when there 
is ample time, and the model poses continuously, 
or repeatedly. For rapid water color sketches, the 
figure must be drawn directly on the paper, with 
light, delicate strokes of a hard pencil, and all the 
construction lines must be cleaned off with a sponge 
rubber before painting is begun. 

The lights and shadows on flesh are always 
gradual ; not only because it is without high gloss, 
but because it is somewhat translucent, and light 
sinks into it. Care must be taken to avoid all sharp, 
cut shadow edges, for in reality none such occur, 
and if the shadows are thus represented, they will 
look solid and stony. On the other hand, they 
must not be softened away into formless woolliness, 
as meaning and character will then be lost. Every 
variation of light and shade on the body, is shaped 
by the underlying muscles, tendons, or bones. 


When this fact is overlooked or ignored, in the 
modeling of a human f gure or of an animal, the 
result is an appearance of bloated puffiness which 
does not in the least resemble the delicate but firm 
gradations of nature. 

The color of the clothing or drapery of figures, 
in a composition, is decided by the greater or less 
importance of the station they occupy, their dis- 
tance from the spectator, and the exigencies of the 
general color-scheme. The arrangement of tints 
in the attire of single figures is usually such ao 
will make the picture attractive as a whole, with- 
out special reference to the individuality of the 
model. The coloring of clothing in portraits, how- 
ever, must be governed entirely by the complexion 
and character of the subject. It must be sub- 
ordinate to the face and head, setting them 
off to advantage, but not asserting itself. An 
elaborate delineation of a tailor s or dressmaker's 
masterpiece carries the eye and mind of the 
observer quite away from the wearer, and the 
portrait becomes, practically, simply a picture of 

Drapery of any kind should never be treated 
in a spotty way ; that is, it should never have a 
great many lights all of the same value. The 
highest light should be concentrated where it be- 
longs, in the prominent parts of the picture, and 


elsewhere the value of the lights should be dimin- 
ished. In order to prevent a sharp contrast be- 
tween the flesh and the clothing, which might give 
an effect of hardness, many artists interpose white 
at the neck or shoulders and around the hands 
or arms. 

Different materials have different textures, and 
take the light differently. While it is never desi- 
rable to work up the drapery to minute finish, the 
nature of the fabric should be clearly indicated. 
Silk is full of small, broken lights, while satin has 
a richer, broader, although still brilliant, surface. 
Woollen goods is usually lustreless, and the folds 
are round and gradual. Velvet has the peculiarity 
of catching the light on the edges of the folds, 
a dark shadow appearing in juxtaposition. Linen 
and cotton hang straight and limp, often with many 
small wrinkles. 

A picture is always more satisfactory if the 
three primary colors are suggested in it. They 
may not all be brought into evidence, but the eye 
should be conscious that they are there, in a more 
or less modified form. Drapery and backgrounds 
are the means of introducing the required tints 
into portraits. It is always undesirable to use 
large masses of cold color. When cold color ap- 
pears, an amount of warm color should be opposed 
to it, sufficient to counteract it. 


All colors are employed in figure pictures, gen- 
erally speaking, but all are not utilized for painting 
flesh. It is not necessary to recapitulate drapery 
and background colors, because there is a wide 
range of choice where they are concerned; but 
mention will be made of those suitable for flesh 
and hair. 

The shadows upon the face and body are not 
all pink, nor are they all of one prevailing color. 
There are red, blue, purple, green, brown, and gray 
shadows, even when the surface is not affected by 
color reflected from the clothing or background. 
The strong shadows are warm, the most delicate 
are grayish, and all have a soft, grayish edge, which 
graduates the modeling and renders harshness 

No matter in what light the model is posed, 
there will be no masses of dense, non-luminous 
shadow upon the flesh, because the face and body 
are not a flat surface, but are full of curves, which 
break the uniformity of shadow by reflected lights. 
All shadows on flesh are transparent, and all 
reflected lights are warm. 

Indian Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Indigo, New Blue, 
Rose Madder, Light Red, Indian Red, Brown 
Madder, Burnt Sienna, and Vandyke Brown, are 
used for flesh painting, some alone and some in 
combination. Indian Yellow and Liorht Red to- 


gether will give flesh colors and reflected lights ; 
Rose Madder and Light Red together, the rosy- 
tints ; Rose Madder and Brown Madder, the shad- 
ows for nostrils, ears, and lips; Indian Red and 
New Blue, the general shadow color; New Blue, 
the small blue shadows ; New Blue and Indian 
Yellow, the greenish shadows ; and Indian Red 
alone, the red shadows. Burnt Sienna and Van- 
dyke Brown enter into dark complexions. 

The iris of blue or gray eyes may be rendered 
by a mixture of New Blue and Sepia ; the iris of 
dark eyes, with New Blue and Vandyke Brown. 
The pupils, eyelashes, and eyebrows are indicated 
with Sepia. 

Yellow Ochre gives the local color for fair hair ; 
Vandyke Brown and Sepia, that of brown hair ; 
while Sepia alone is used for the local color of 
black hair. All hair may be shaded with Vandyke 
Brown and Sepia, alone or in combination, al- 
though the lights in black hair are sometimes 
bluish or purplish. The point of high light in 
the eye is given with Chinese White. 

While in small, rapid figure sketches, and in 
compositions where a number of figures appear, 
the flesh may be painted in flat washes, in por- 
traits and large studies of single figures, the color 
is mainly hatched or stippled on, to give texture 
and transparency. In all cases, the main shadows 


are blocked in with flat color before the general 
flesh tone is applied. 

Hatching means laying on the color in short 
strokes, which are afterward crossed at a moderate 
angle by other short strokes. The first set of 
strokes must follow the grain of the flesh, and the 
second set must never be made at right angles 
with the first. The hatching should be left rather 
open, but not coarse. 

Stippling is putting on the color with the point 
of the brush, in minute dots. 

The first thing to be done, in painting a face or 
figure, is to wash in the shadows in their proper 
colors, and in the proper depth of tone. The eyes, 
brows, and lashes may also be placed, the latter 
not as separate hairs, but as a shadow. The color 
of the lips is likewise put in, but it is stippled, not 
washed. When the shadows are dry, the general 
flesh tint is washed over them. The large masses 
of the hair are then modeled with flat washes, but 
no lines. 

The flesh tint is next carried over the face or 
figure again, but is hatched, not washed on, and 
all other subsequent work on the flesh is either 
hatched or stippled. The shadows are strength- 
ened or modified where such alterations are neces- 
sary, the local color of the hair is washed on, the 
color of the cheek is put in, and finally the details 


of eyes, lips, and hair. The latter should be kept 
in masses, and not made wiry with multitudinous 

In many of the gray shadows, the effect is ob- 
tained, not by mixing the red and blue together, 
and applying them in one tint, but by hatching 
them in separately, the red first and the "blue over 
it ; but everything must be soft, no violent tones 
being permissible in flesh. 

The eyes of animals are painted like those of 
human beings ; and what has been said of hair will 
apply also to all rough-coated creatures. The 
direction assumed by the hair of animals is largely 
influenced by the curves of the body, and this 
influence is more or less evident even when the 
coat is long and shaggy. 

Short-haired animals are often so glossy that 
the high lights upon them appear almost blue, and 
are very sharp and distinct, as in silk. Great care 
must be taken to keep them of the exact form 
seen in nature, as they indicate the prominent 
modeling of the body. On woolly animals, like 
the sheep or camel, the high lights are broad and 
diffused, and have no scintillation. 

The pigments used in animal painting are mainly 
rather dull. Indian Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Indigo, 
French Blue, Purple Madder, Light Red, Burnt 
Sienna, Vandyke Brown, Brown Madder, Brown 


Ochre, Sepia, and the Umbers compose a useful 
list. It is hardly, necessary to say, that the animal 
painter must have some knowledge of landscape 
work, as landscape backgrounds are often re- 

For fish — which are usually represented as dead 
— and birds, both dead and living, brighter colors 
are needed. Many birds are very brilliant, while 
the great beauty of fish lies in their vivid spots 
and stripes, and the play of rainbow colors on the 
skin or scales. It must be remembered that in 
delineating either scales or feathers, the main 
shadows and modeling, and the definite colors, 
should be placed, before any attempt is made at 
rendering the details of texture. The fibrous na- 
ture of the feathers, and the overlapping of the 
scales, are not to be indicated with equal distinct- 
ness all over the body, but only at the parts where 
such minutiae are most obvious — that is, on the 
light portions nearest the eye of the observer. 

The student may often detect mistakes of draw- 
ing and modeling in his work by placing it op- 
posite a mirror, and looking at the reflection, 
which, being reversed, will present the subject 
in a new aspect, and bring into evidence errors to 
which his eye has grown accustomed in the actual 

Finally, in painting either figures or animals, the 



form and action are to be rendered with vigor, the 
colors kept pure and clear, even when they are 
subdued, and the shadows made simple and trans- 
parent. Nature is the best master, and faithful 
observation is worth a volume of precepts. 


Monochrome painting, although guided by the 
same general principles as Polychrome painting, is 
yet often adopted as a profession by itself, and 
many artists confine themselves to the use of one 
pigment, instead of employing many, making a 
specialty of illustration and kindred work. The 
one pigment chosen for monochrome effect is by no 
means necessarily black, although black is used in 
the majority of cases, because it is best suited for 


purposes of reproduction — and most monochrome 
work is intended for reproduction, usually by photo- 
engraving. When a man paints a picture, merely 
as a picture, without reference to its ultimate desti- 
nation, he naturally employs a variety of colors ; but 
when he paints a picture with the specific aim of 
illustrating text, he chooses monochrome, for the 
reason that it is far more easily and correctly re- 
produced in black-and-white than is polychrome. 
When the only method of reproducing was by 
hand engraving, this was of less consequence ; but 
hand engraving is very expensive, and has been 
almost entirely superseded, for ordinary purposes, 
by photo-engraving. 

A photo-engraving of a many-colored picture 
has, in the main, the same characteristics which a 
photograph of it would have ; that is, the actual, 
positive colors are rendered in black-and-white just 
as they would be rendered in a photograph, and 
a photograph gives the values of colors with great 
inaccuracy. The most glaring example of this 
inaccuracy is seen in respect of yellow, which is, 
in itself, very conspicuous and vivid, and charac- 
teristically tends to come forward toward the eye. 
In a photograph, however, yellow appears black ; 
while clear blues, which are far less prominent by 
nature, assume a lightness and brilliancy which do 
not in reality belong to them. 


When an artist paints a monochrome picture, he 
takes pains to show the relative value of actual 
colors, although he does not use the colors them- 
selves. If he represents both yellow and blue 
flowers, he makes the yellow ones lighter and more 
noticeable than the blue ones, as they truly are, 
and in the reproduction of his picture by photo- 
engraving, the values remain as he has indicated 
them, instead of being altered, as they would be if 
the real colors were used in the original. 

The special suitability of monochrome for ordi- 
nary illustration, is therefore evident. This is, 
indeed, its main purpose, and black-and-white mono- 
chromes are those most generally seen. Green, 
blue, red, and brown are also used for monochrome 
work, however ; notably for the outside decoration 
of magazines and pamphlets, less frequently for 
illustrations in art publications. They are likewise 
employed in making designs for the ornamentation 
of china and other articles. 

Among the examples of colored monochromes 
most often encountered, are those in the Delft 
style. The characteristic blue or green is em- 
ployed, — for there is green Delft as well as blue, 
— and the general peculiarities of the figures, land- 
scapes, and conventional decoration seen on the 
actual pottery are, or should be, carefully pre- 


The designs for book-covers are also frequently 
made in monochrome, the color selected being such 
as will best harmonize with the color of the cover, 
a darker or lighter shade of the same color being 
commonly chosen. In a book-cover design, how- 
ever, the work is much broader and simpler than 
in designs for china and similar objects, because 
the surface for which it is intended is not suscep- 
tible of fine and delicate treatment of light and 

In ordinary monochrome work, the manner of 
rendering is the same, no matter what color is em- 
ployed. The high lights are left white, or are 
faintly tinted, and the deepest shadows are repre- 
sented by the darkest shade of the color. The 
method of procedure varies according to the sub- 
ject selected, — flowers, landscape, or figure, — 
and the general treatment is like that of poly- 

The element of technical design, however, often 
has to be considered, and sometimes enters even 
into illustration, which is the most important branch 
of monochrome. The word design is used to ex- 
press the adaptation of artistic representation to a 
special, practical, decorative purpose ; and although 
illustration is not really designing, and in many 
cases has no connection with it, but is simply a 
making of pictures to explain some situation or 


condition suggested in the associated text, it may, 
again, partake largely of the character of design, 
while still maintaining a connection with the letter- 
press, and carrying out an idea contained therein. 
Take initial letters, for example. They are fre- 
quently given ornamental value at the beginning 
of a chapter, and while sometimes they have no 
application to the reading matter save as they rep- 
resent a necessary letter, the most pleasing ones 
are those which contain elements suggesting the 
leading event or purpose of the chapter. A sug- 
gestion is all that they can contain ; for the limit 
of size and the need for bringing the alphabetical 
character into prominence, as well as the general 
decorative requirement of the page, demand a cer- 
tain amount of conventionality, and do not allow 
of the working up of the idea in a definite and 
conclusive way. In fact, the quality of suggestive- 
ness is the chief charm of an initial letter — it 
should be a hint, not a revelation. 

In decorative chapter headings, more latitude is 
permissible. The alphabetical motive being absent, 
the decorative idea is less limited in application, 
although, as in an initial letter, it may be purely 
conventional. A chapter heading is, however, more 
satisfactory, if the mind, as well as the eye, is 
gratified, and an intimation of the main theme of 
the text is embodied. The general treatment may 


be entirely ornamental, or may be entirely natural, 
within the limits prescribed by the size and shape 
of the page, and the proportionate amount of space 
allotted to decoration. The arrangement of an 
initial letter or a chapter heading, and the area it 
occupies, must be calculated with reference to the 
appearance of the page as a whole, because, after 
all, illustration of any kind is secondary to the text 
it illustrates, and that text has the first claim upon 
attention and consideration. When an artist wishes 
to elaborate an idea conveyed in the reading-matter, 
and to represent the exact situation described, he 
abandons the decorative intention entirely, and 
makes a picture of the scene, not a chapter heading 
nor an initial letter ; and this picture is placed in 
juxtaposition to that portion of the text to which it 

Chapter headings may extend quite across the 
page, or may be confined to one side ; they may be 
oblong, triangular, or irregular in shape ; they may 
have a definite background, or none at all ; in fact, 
the artist's fancy has full play, within the proper 
limits and proportions, and he may introduce many 
effects which would not be admissible in a picture, 
where simply suggestive decoration is not the guid- 
ing principle, as it is in chapter headings, initial 
letters, and tail-pieces. Pictorial illustrations are, 
however, subject to the same conditions of form 


and composition which are essential to good pic- 
tures of any kind. 

What has been said of the intention of chapter 
headinj^s will apply equally well to tail-pieces. 
While it is true that they are often purely decora- 
tive in character, and have no connection, however 
rcmotC) with the text, it is more artistic to put 
into them some suggestion of the preceding read- 
ing matter, or the general subject of the book, or 
to allow them to hint at finality. 

The first thing to be considered, therefore, in 
making a chapter heading, an initial letter, or a 
tail-piece, is the subject of the chapter or volume. 
The next is the general proportions of the page ; 
that is, its length, width, and actual size. Wide 
n\argins and largo, open type add much to the at- 
tractive appeanu\ce of a page ; but these advantages 
arc usually allowed by the publisher, as a matter of 
course* in a book for which the expense of illus- 
tration is incurroil* and the illustrator is justified 
in calculating U[H>n them. The chapter heading 
must ciMUorm to the limits of the page ; that is, it 
must bo ov>mploto within those limits, and must be 
so arrauiiwl that it gives no impression of having 
Kvn chop^Hxl otY or jxirovl down in order to make 
it tu it\. It shv>uld be of a shaiHj and size to deco- 
rate the ^ucx^. not monopv^lire it. and it should not 
otvvwJ the louor-hoadiuir into obscuritv. There 


are no iron rules as to the amount of space to be 
occupied, for chapter headings are of shapes too 
numerous to mention ; but, on general principles, 
it is advisable that the decorative heading for 
prose work should not take up more than half the 
page, exclusive of the letter-heading, and usually it 
should occupy less. Initial letters vary much in 
size, but should be kept in proper proportion to 
the type employed for the text, and should not be 
made too important. Tail-pieces are smaller than 
chapter headings, and are placed in the middle of 
the page, as distinguished from one side. They 
are seldom longer perpendicularly than they are 
horizontally. If they suggest the idea of termi- 
nation, so much the better, although this is not a 
necessity. When tail-pieces have no application 
to the chapter they follow, or to the main topic of 
the book, they are usually more or less conventional, 
and serve simply as an ornament to the page, 
placed there to gratify the eye alone, not to carry 
out any mental association. 

When the illustrations are not of a decorative 
character, but are pictures in themselves, they may 
claim as much space, within the limits of the page, 
as is necessary for the adequate representation of 
the subject. 

Illustrations are nearly always reduced in size 
when they are reproduced, the dimensions of the 


printed picture being usually about one-third those 
of the original. This diminishment naturally makes 
the work appear finer, although, when the original 
work is very minute, it causes detail to vanish 
utterly. The reduction to one-third the given size 
is by no means an absolute rule, however, for it is 
possible to reduce a picture to any desired limit. 
In making illustrations, the artist ordinarily allows 
himself three times the actual measurements of the 
space allotted for the reproduction, simply because 
it gives him room to work with more breadth and 
freedom ; and he avoids minutiae, knowing that 
when the illustration is reduced in engraving, its 
delicacy of appearance will be much enhanced, and 
that if it is too fine in the original, there will be a 
lack of character in the reproduction. 

Tube colors are to be preferred for monochrome 
painting, because they are soft, and work easily, 
and the objection of bulk does not hold, since one 
tube occupies but»little room. Lamp Black is a 
desirable pigment for black-and-white work ; Sepia 
yields a cool brown. Burnt Sienna a warm brown, 
and both are pleasing in monochrome ; Indian Red 
gives satisfactory red effects ; Indigo and French 
Blue, in combination, are suitable for blue Delft 
designs ; while Indigo and Hooker's Green No. 2 
make a good green Delft color. 

Work intended for reproduction should never 



be folded. It may be rolled, if it is very large, but 
preferably it should be kept flat. When it is sent 
by mail, it should be placed between two pieces 
of stiff pasteboard, or if it is rolled, in a strong 
mailing tube. 


V / Although Decorative painting 

c is not, strictly speaking, a branch 

of water color painting, in the ar- 
tistic sense, there are many beginners and ama- 
teurs who like to turn what knowledge of painting 
they possess, to practical account in making or 
ornamenting articles for holiday presents and other 
puqioscs ; and a short chapter will be devoted to 
the consideration of such work, quite aside from 
the making of pictures and sketches, as such. 

The principles of decoration are somewhat dif- 
ferent from those of picture composition and col- 
oring. In pictures, the picture itself is all in all. 
It chums attention as a representation of some- 



thing, without reference to anything outside its 
own limits. In decorative work, the conditions 
are quite otherwise. The painting is secondary 
in importance to the object decorated, and is in- 
fluenced by the shape, surface, and purpose of the 
latter. In order to be appropriate and artistic, it 
should be kept subordinate, adapting itself grace- 
fully to all the practical conditions of the situation, 
and should never be suffered to assert itself as a 
picture instead of a mere ornament. 

The arrangement of flowers and figures in dec- 
oration must, therefore, be guided by the shape of 
the object they decorate, and must conform to it 
in such a way that the ornamentation seems to be . 
its natural adjunct, not a forced and unadaptable 
addition. Landscapes are less amenable to con- 
ventional treatment, and thus are not so frequently 
employed for purely decorative purposes, although 
they, too, have their value in ornamentation. 

In order to be effective, painting intended solely 
for decoration should never be extremely fine and 
minute, nor should it display startling contrasts, — 
unless, indeed, it is all contrast, like a black design 
on a white ground, — for in both cases, it detaches 
itself from the object decorated, and demands at- 
tention on its own account, thereby ceasing to be 
a mere decoration, and becoming, or tending to 
become, a picture. A valuable decorative hint is 


afforded by c/iin/ silks, — those silks in which the 
design appears frayed out and foggy, upon close 
examination, being blent in with the fabric so that 
its lines and details are indistinct, while its orna- 
mental value still remains. 

As an illustration of what is meant, a painted 
calendar may be chosen. Assuming that a large, 
oblong water color card has been taken as the 
foundation, the largest diameter of the card being 
horizontal, and the actual calendar — the months, 
days, and numerals — being placed in the lower 
right-hand corner ; the left-hand end of the card, 
the upper left-hand corner, and the top will present 
. the space for decoration. As a floral motive is 
usually selected, because it is most effective in an 
ornamental way, wild roses may be considered the 
theme of the design on the calendar, since they 
are a pleasing and adaptable subject. The main 
group — a cluster of leaves and flowers — is placed 
in the upper left-hand corner, and from it, sprays 
trail away along the upper edge of the card and 
toward the lower left-hand corner. These sprays 
diminish in importance, that is, in size and in 
strength of color, until they lapse to a natural ter- 
mination. The colors employed, while very bright 
and clear in quality, are, nevertheless, kept pale and 
misty ; few gray and dark shadows are used, and 
no sharp effects of light and shade are introduced ; 

DECOR/triON 215 

not because such effects do not occur in nature, 
but because they are not suitable to the decorative 
purpose. Decoration is a suggestion, not a delin- 
eation, and this difference between a decoration 
and a picture should always be borne in mind. 

To return to the calendar ; the upper left-hand 
corner, as affording the largest space, holds the 
nucleus of the design, the flowers and leaves placed 
there being painted with more strength and distinct- 
ness, while the others decrease in force of color and 
detail as they recede from the chief cluster. The 
tint fades off more and more toward the extrem- 
ities, so that there is no sense of abrupt cessation. 

The adaptation of decoration to the space to be 
decorated must never be forgotten. If the space 
is irregular, the grouping must be irregular, in 
accordance with it. If a corner is to be orna- 
mented, the ornamentation must be arranged so 
as to fit in naturally, without appearing to be 
forced into the required shape. On circular ob- 
jects, the design should follow the curve. Figures, 
landscapes, and marines are less often employed for 
the adornment of articles of arbitrary form than 
are floral and conventional motives, because they 
are less conformable, and have more the character 
of pictures than of simple decoration ; but for 
square or oblong, round or oval spaces, they are 
entirely suitable. 


Among conventional motives, scrolls of various 
sorts are the most important. They may be used 
alone or in combination with flowers, figures, or 
landscapes. Delft designs are generally surrounded ^ 
by scrolls, conventional flowers being also fre- 
quently added. As some knowledge of the tech- 
nical theory of ornament is necessary for the 
invention of correct and pleasing scrolls, it is 
more advisable for an amateur to avail himself 
of a ready-made scroll, adapting it to his purpose, 
than for him to attempt to produce something 
entirely original. Scrolls are to be found every- 
where, — on book-covers, in wall papers, in carpets, 
even on tradesmen's wagons in the street, as well 
as in books devoted to decorative art, — so he need 
never be at a loss. 

Figures painted in flat tints, without shading, 
are often effective in an ornamental way. They 
must be graceful in shape, and as there is no mod- 
eling in them, a heavy outline is usually necessary 
in order that the contours may be defined. Many 
children's books have colored illustrations in this 
style, and hints may be obtained from them. 

Metallic paints are frequently made use of in 
ornamentation, but they must never appear in 
combination with realistic treatment. For scrolls, 
conventional designs, and lettering, they are per- 
fectly suitable ; but introduced into landscapes, 


figures, or natural flowers, they are anomalous and 
inartistic. The best metallic paints for the water 
colorist are those which come in the form of fine 
powder. They should be mixed with a strong 
solution of gum arabic, the mixture being made as 
thick as is consistent with its smooth application 
by the brush. If the proportion of gum arabic is 
too small, the metallic powder will loosen and fall 
off as soon as it is dry, but if enough of the gum 
is used, it will hold to the surface permanently. 

All letters and numerals should be made with 
great accuracy, for they are arbitrary symbols, 
and any incorrectness in their shape or spacing is 
always obvious and displeasing. Books of the 
standard ornamental alphabets are to be obtained 
of any dealer in art materials, and a little practice 
will enable the student to change the size and the 
details of the letters to suit himself, without losing 
their character. 

It is, of course, quite impossible to enumerate the 
objects suitable for water color decoration. Those 
made of paper and pasteboard first suggest them- 
selves, — calendars, menu and guest cards, boxes, 
and photograph frames. When photographs are 
placed in a wooden frame, with a mat, the mat 
is sometimes painted, the decoration being kept 
very delicate so as not to usurp the importance 
which rightfully belongs to the photograph. Silk, 


satin, leather, kid, glazed linen, and wood also take 
water color well, the scheme of ornamentation and 
the method of treatment being decided by the 
purpose for which the article is meant and the 
surface which is to receive the paint. Sachets, 
jewel, glove, and handkerchief boxes, book-marks, 
blotting-books, pin-cushions, fans, hand screens, 
satin bags, and many other objects, of various 
materials, afford scope for the decorator's inge- 

When the surface to be decorated is white, or is 
lighter than any tone to be employed in painting 
on it, being yet of the same prevailing tint as the 
proposed decoration, transparent or semi-transpar- 
ent colors, such as have been spoken of throughout 
the foregoing chapters, may be used. For work- 
ing on silk and similar fabrics, the brush must be 
kept rather dry, to prevent the color from soaking 
and spreading. In cases where the surface is col- 
ored to begin with, however, and paler or entirely 
different tones are to enter into the decoration, 
body colors must be employed, because they are 
opaque, and will not be changed by being put upon 
a ground darker than themselves, or of an oppos- 
ing tint. For example, if a pale violet-colored 
sachet is to be ornamented with a design of deep 
purple violets, there is no need of painting them in 
body color, because the darker purple will go on 

DECOR/triON 219 

over the lighter in an entirely satisfactory way ; 
but if it is to be ornamented with white or yellow 
flowers, body color is indispensable. 

These opaque colors are to be obtained in tubes 
at all art material shops. No list of ttem is given 
here, because the student need buy only what he 
requires for his special purpose, and his general 
knowledge of pigments will guide him in making 
a suitable selection. 

Silk, satin, and kid, in pale colors or white, are 
appropriately decorated with delicate floral designs 
or Watteau figures ; paper, pasteboard, and linen, 
with flowers, colored landscapes, and blue or green 
Delft designs ; leather and wood, with conventional 
patterns and landscapes in monochrome. These are 
simply suggestions, not rules to which the painter 
must conform, and any person with a taste for or- 
namental work, will think of many changes, varia- 
tions, and effective combinations and novelties. 

There are some essential points which the deco- 
rator must remember, however, and one of these 
is cleanline3s. If an article becomes soiled in pro- 
cess of ornamentation, its beauty is gone ; so great 
pains should be taken to guard it from dust, mois- 
ture, and spatters of paint. Another point is accu- 
racy of touch, because in many cases the working 
surface is of such a nature that mistakes cannot be 
corrected. Still another is delicacy and purity of 


color, muddy painting being a blemish instead of a 

Whatever the style of the design, it must not be 
so full and heavy that it overburdens the object 
upon which it appears, but must always be in rea- 
sonable proportion. Last, but not least, a simple, 
but well-arranged decoration is worth infinitely 
more than an elaborate, ill-managed one, and the 
amateur need never involve himself in difficulties 
under the impression that complexity is the chief 
beauty of ornament. 


^ -/ 

■" ^^^. 


The arrangement or composition of a picture is 
usually of so great difficulty to the student who is 
just beginning to work from nature, or from the 
actual object, that it is deemed desirable to give 
the matter special attention, as a department of 
knowledge by itself, quite aside from any question 
of mechanical color-handling. A man may under- 
stand composition, if he studies the subject, even 
though he never touches pencil nor brush. The 
tableaux of all theatrical representations are ar- 
ranged upon the same general principles which 
underlie the composing of a picture, and their ef- 
fectiveness is produced by an application of the 



same laws, not so rigidly adhered to, however, be- 
cause the tableau is a transitory thing, while the 
painting will last. 

Whoever had the good fortune to see Miss Mary 
Anderson in "A Winter's Tale," must have indeli- 
bly printed on his memory the exquisite series of 
pictures given in the play ; and every one of those 
pictures was the result, not of a fortunate accident, 
but of long study and preparation. The groups 
were arranged, and the individual characters posed, 
as carefully as an artist poses models for painting, 
and with the same purpose in view. 

The dictionary definition of the word composition 
is, "The art or practice of so combining the dif- 
ferent parts of a work of art as to produce a har- 
monious whole ; also, a work of art considered as 
such. An artistic production . . . showing study 
and care in arrangement." This definition may 
not be plain to the inexperienced student, who has, 
perhaps, the idea that flower, landscape, and figure 
artists represent what they see, exactly as chance 
happens to direct the grouping or attitude. This 
idea is erroneous, for, in reality, something is ne- 
cessary to the making of a good picture besides a 
knowledge of color-handling and an understanding 
of light and shade. The items of which the pic- 
ture consists, must be so put together that they 
compose one " harmonious whole," each item being 


so dependent upon the others that it could not be 
omitted without its loss being felt, and yet no item 
assuming more importance than belongs to its 
rightful position. Composition does not mean the 
simple bunching together of detached objects; it 
means the establishing of a relation between them 
so strong that it will prevent the picture they com- 
pose from being divided into different portions, 
each one of which is a complete picture itself, re- 
garded separately from the rest. It is the inter- 
weaving of many individuals into one individual 

For example, if an artist wishes to represent a 
handful of flowers lying upon a table, he does not 
fling the flowers down and paint them just as they 
happen to fall, without regard to the position they 
chance to take. It is comparatively seldom that 
accident combines objects in such a way that they 
will be entirely satisfactory to the mind and eye 
when reproduced in a picture. In literature, the 
necessity for shaping a story, for bringing certain 
characters into prominence and keeping certain 
others subordinate, is universally recognized ; and 
the same necessity prevails in the composition of 
a picture. If every part of it is made equally im- 
portant, the attention of the spectator will be 
distracted from one place to another, and will 
never be concentrated at any one spot ; whereas, 


\i the artist establishes one point of special inter- 
est, and keeps the others subordinate, the eye will 
direct itself to the interesting point, and rest there, 

There is a difference between a simple sketch 
and a picture. A sketch is merely a suggestion, 
an informal, comparatively incomplete thing, which 
makes no pretensions to presenting a complex 
thought, or an idea carried out to the extreme 
limit.H of artistic expression. The question* of 
composition does not, therefore, enter into the 
making of sketches, which may permissibly be 
quite fragmentary. The artist jots down an atti- 
tude or an effect of light and shade that pleases 
him, and having caught it, the work is finished, as 
a sketch. Such sketches may be turned to ac- 
count in composition later on, but they are not 
compositions in themselves. The term composition 
implies the introduction of more than one element, 
and the disposal of these elements in such a way 
tliat they shall form one pleasing whole, instead 
of a cluster of independent items. A sketch may 
be the idea for one of the elements, but a compo- 
sition necessarily includes the general idea for a 
complete picture. Take, for example, a painting 
of a battle scene, with cavalry charging, an officer 
loading, anil dead and woundetl men upon the 
grvmnd. When the artist is planning the picture. 


he makes separate sketches of every one of the 
figures and animals, which are simply individual 
studies of attitude, made with reference to the 
place they are to occupy in the painting ; but 
when he combines his sketches and forms them 
into groups, and then arranges the, groups so as 
to suggest his full idea of the scene he desires to 
depict, he makes a composition. 

The main rules of composition are the same in 
all picture painting ; but decorative composition is 
somewhat different, for it must necessarily be 
governed by the object or surface to be decorated, 
its shape, size, and purpose, the distance . from 
which it is to be viewed, its texture, and many 
other considerations. Decorative composition will 
not be discussed here, because it belongs more 
especially to the department of decorative art, 
while this book deals chiefly with sketching and 
picture making. 

In composition, the arrangement of form and 
the arrangement of color both have to be regarded. 
In black-and-white pictures, the idea of positive 
color is, to a certain extent, eliminated ; but relative 
color — that is, whether the local tint of a thing 
is light, dark, brilliant, or dull, in comparison with 
other things in the picture — remains to be consid- 
ered. The idea of contrast is the basis of paint- 
ing, in either polychrome or monochrome. 


The first thing to be thought of in making a 
picture, is the selection of an interesting subject. 
It may be interesting because of its beauty, pic. 
turcsqueness, sentiment, meaning, or dramatic pos- 
sibilities, but interest of some sort it must have. 
In pictures of flowers, the interest lies in beauty 
of color and form, and grace of arrangement, and 
the same may be said of representations of dead 
game and fish, although a corpse of any kind is not, 
strictly speaking, a beautiful object. If a picture 
of a slaughtered deer is at all pleasing, it pleases 
only by virtue of what poor resemblance the dead 
body retains to the appearance it presented when 
it was alive. In pictures of landscapes and ma- 
rines, sentiment and picturesqueness are additional 
elements of interest, while in pictures of figures 
and animals, all the qualities mentioned may enter, 
and the interest of action besides. 

A composition consists of a subject and acces- 
sories. The subject is the main feature of the 
picture, and exemplifies its leading idea, while the 
accessories carry out the sense, and complete the 
general arrangement. The accessories, although 
of groat im^x^rtance with relation to the subject, 
are of no imjx)rtance in themselves, compara- 
tively speaking, and should never be permitted to 
con\o into such prominence that they distract at- 
tention from the subject. The essential thing in 


composing a picture, is to so arrange it that the 
eye of the observer is led to some one part of it, 
and rests there, instead of wandering from one 
place to another, and remaining nowhere ; and the 
proper part of the picture to form this resting- 
place for the eye, is, of course, the chief feature. 
For example, if a painter makes a picture of two 
men wrestling, and so manages his color, light, 
shade, and general lines of composition, that the 
eye is irresistibly attracted to a stone or a flower 
on the ground, instead of to the men's figures, he 
destroys the effect of his work, because he con- 
centrates attention on an unimportant detail, and 
so leads it away from his actual subject. The 
mental consciousness on the part of the observer 
that the wrestlers are meant to be the main fea- 
ture of the picture, will not prevent his eye from 
being drawn away from them, if a subordinate 
feature is brought into greater prominence, because 
the eye is attracted to any object possessing bright- 
ness of color, strong contrast, or a conspicuous 
situation, irrespective of the inherent importance 
of the object itself. 

When any minor detail of a picture is thus 
brought into too great evidence, asserting itself in 
such a way as to usurp attention, it is said to be 
a "noise," or to be "noisy." When no one part 
of the picture is made especially important, but 


every part is of the same value as the other parts, 
all equally demanding attention, the picture is called 
"scattered," and is always unsatisfactory in effect, 
for the eye wanders hither and thither, and is not 
able to remain fixed upon any one place, because 
it is attracted just as strongly somewhere else. In 
order, therefore, to produce a " harmonious whole," 
which is the essential result of good composition, 
the artist must use every means in his power to 
carry the eye of the observer to the subject of his 
picture, and to make that its instinctive resting- 

The worth of bright color, contrast, and definite- 
ness, in riveting attention, has already been ex- 
plained in the chapter devoted to Flowers, Fruit, 
, and Still Life ; but there is also another method 
of drawing the eye to a particular part of the pic- 
ture, which has not yet been mentioned ; and this 
method lies in a suitable adjustment of the general 
lines of the composition to the purpose the artist 
has in view. The word line is not here used in 
the sense of an actual, geometric line, but simply 
to express the tendency of direction ; as, when a 
number of objects are placed in a row, they are 
said to be in line. 

The skilful artist will, therefore, arrange the 
lines of his composition in such a manner that 
they will direct the eye to the desired spot, but in 


SO easy and natural a way that it is not conscious 
of being guided, although, in reality, it is obeying 
his wish. There are several means of thus com- 
pelling the eye, and they are all based upon a few 
simple elementary principles. 

One of these principles is, that the eye is at- 
tracted to the centre of a circle, rather than to any 
part of the circumference. The student may prove 
this to his own satisfaction by drawing a circle on 
paper with a pencil. His eye takes in the circle 
as a whole, and is not held by any one part of it ; 
but if he places a dot in the middle of the circle, 
his eye immediately fastens itself to the dot, and 
returns to it instinctively if he glances away toward 
the circumference. It will consequently be seen, 
that when the general lines of a composition have 
a circular tendency, the eye will be carried toward 
the centre, and it is there that the principal object 
or group of objects should be placed. There are 
few errors in picture arrangement more glaring, 
than to give the general lines a circular suggestion 
and then leave the centre blank and uninteresting. 
The eye is led to the middle only to be disap- 

Another principle is, that the eye instinctively 
goes to the point where lines converge. If three 
lines are drawn, radiating from a common centre, 
the eye will fix itself upon the centre rather than 


upon the lines; or if two pencil lines are drawn, 
forming an angle, the eye will rest at the apex of 
the angle in preference to any other part. There- 
fore, attention may be attracted to the subject of 
a picture by making the general lines of the com- 
position converge toward it. 

A third principle is that of isolation. If a dozen 
pencil dots be grouped close together on a piece 
of paper, and one dot of the same size and depth 
of color be placed alone, near them, but not in the 
group, the eye will fix itself upon the isolated dot 
in preference to the group of dots. In pursuance 
of this idea, the subject of a picture may sometimes 
be brought into prominence by isolating it, and 
placing it in opposition to a group of subordinate 

It will readily be seen that while these principles 
luv of the utmost \-alue when properly applied, the 
disregard of them will lead to grave faults of com- 
pojiition. The inexperienced student, arranging 
his gn^Hiping more by accident than design, will 
otteu fail to notice the general tendency of direc- 
tion that it is assuming, and so not succeed in 
brit\git\g it ir\to h.u-mony as a whole. The eye will 
be k\l to the wTvnig place, or to no place at all 
it\ cs^KviaL and his picture will be unsatisfactory, 
althou-h he may not be able to discern that the 
trvHible lies in its bad construction. 


The matter of composition is far more quickly 
made clear when good and evil examples, in the 
form of actual pictures, can be exhibited, and the 
errors and merits pointed out and explained. Fail- 
ing that, however, the teacher can only outline the 
main ideas in words, leaving the student to work 
them out and apply them for himself. 

It is much easier to tell what should not be done 
than what should be done. Any positive merit in 
a picture is usually the outcome of what is inherent 
in the artist, while negative merit may be simply 
the result of proper instruction. A student can- 
not be taught to express what is not in him, but 
he can be prevented from expressing wrongly what 
is in him. 

It has been said that the eye follows the general 
lines of the composition to the spot where they 
tend to converge, and that these lines should, 
therefore, be arranged so as to converge toward 
the principal feature. If the lines are too obvious, 
however, and are long and unbroken, they will as- 
sume great importance in themselves, and force 
the fact of their existence upon the spectator. To 
avoid any such bald display of the elementary plan 
of construction upon which the picture is based, 
these lines must be arranged in such a way as not 
to appeal to the eye as lines, but simply as a gen- 
eral tendency, felt rather than seen. They should 


never be allowed to remain continuous, but should 
be broken as much as possible. This advice holds 
good with regard to all long lines in a picture, 
whether they are straight or curved, and whether 
they converge or not. 

For example, take a simple study of a branch of 
dogwood blossoms, extending upward across the 
paper from left to right. The general line of ar- 
rangement is, of course, one which runs obliquely 
in that direction ; but while this tendency is felt, 
the line is, nevertheless, broken by twigs, leaves, 
and flowers, placed at different angles to it. This 
prevents the effect from appearing forced, as it 
would appear if there were no interruptions to 
break the continuity. 

Everything about, a picture should be insinuated, 
not obviously insisted upon. While a skilful artist 
really irresistibly compels the eye to go where he 
wishes, he yet seems to merely suggest the direc- 
tion — he never lets his mechanism become evi- 

Long, continuous lines are, then, to be avoided, 
especially in subordinate parts of the picture, since 
the eye is always attracted to them ; and whenever 
the eye is attracted to a subordinate part, the prin- 
cipal part is correspondingly neglected. In the 
case of flower, fruit or still life pictures, having a 
horizontal plane and a background, the line divid- 


mg the two should always be kept soft, and be 
interrupted as much as possible. While it should 
be lifted sufficiently high to allow ample depth of 
perspective for the placing of the subject, it should 
yet remain low enough to be well broken by the 
grouping. For instance, if a handful of roses is 
represented as lying upon a table, the surface of 
the table, or horizontal plane, must be allowed to 
extend back into the distance so far that the eye 
is aware that the roses have room to rest upon the 
level, with space to spare ; but it should not be 
carried back to such a depth that the perspective 
lifts the horizon line quite clear of the group, and 
permits it to pass across the picture without in- 
terruption, for the line will, in that case, infallibly 
attract the eye away from the roses. 

All lines, or arrangements, tending to divide a 
picture into mathematical sections, or obvious geo- 
metric forms, must be shunned. To so plan the 
general lines of composition that the picture ap- 
pears to be cut into distinct halves, thirds or quar- 
ters, squares or triangles, is to produce a most 
displeasing effect. The painting ceases to be re- 
garded as a whole ; it is looked at in fractions, and 
the lines defining the fractions are the most con- 
spicuous things in it. 

Symmetry of grouping is to be avoided, as an 
aspect of stiffness and conventionality is an unfail- 


ing result of too regular an arrangement of the 
lines of composition. While a certain amount of 
balance is necessary, it should be carefully calcu- 
lated with reference to the ultimate shape of the 
general mass of the picture ; and an item on one 
side should not be supported by a similar item on 
the other side in the corresponding situation and 
position. The sense of balance must be more sub- 
tly suggested, and the less evident symmetry and 
regularity there are, the better. Monotony and 
exact repetition weary the eye and mind, and make 
a picture uninteresting. A large, but unimportant 
feature in one place may be supported by a smaller, 
but more important feature in another. 

No wide, empty spaces should be left in a pic- 
ture. A gap in the composition destroys its unity, 
and is felt as a blank, even if it does not occur in 
a prominent situation. 

The natural tendency of the eye, when uninflu- 
enced by other considerations, is toward the middle 
of the picture. It is, therefore, desirable to place 
the chief object, or group of objects, somewhere in 
that neighborhood, rather than at the top, bottom, 
or extreme side. The exact middle, however, is 
not to be chosen, as the construction then becomes 
too symmetrical. 

To so arrange objects in a picture that they may 
be divided into groups, each one of which forms a 


separate and entire picture in itself, independent 
of the general sense, is bad construction. The 
groups should always be so placed that the picture 
holds together as a complete whole, each part 
closely related to the rest, and helping out the full 
meaning. In a flower picture, for example, which 
is composed of flowers in a vase or bowl, with other 
flowers lying scattered upon the table, it is always 
best to have the outline of the still life cut by the 
flowers lying upon the table, so that the vase, with 
its flowers, may not detach itself from the rest, and 
thus impress the observer as being an entire pic- 
ture, with a separate individuality. When portions 
of a composition draw away from the rest and 
seem non-essential to the carrying out of the gen- 
eral meaning, or assume a meaning of their own, 
the picture is scattered and unsatisfactory. 

The front view of any object is always the most 
interesting, therefore the subject of a picture 
should seldom be represented from the back. 
While side and back views are of great importance 
in making up a group, they do not equal the face 
in value ; and the chief feature of a picture, 
whether the picture be of flowers, figures, or ani- 
mals, is best placed with the face toward the ob- 
server. Moreover, nothing should be permitted 
to interfere with a clear view of it. A study of 
a group of flowers should be so arranged that no 


Stems nor leaves pass in front of the principal 
flowers, intervening between them and the eye of 
the spectator; otherwise such stems and leaves 
will usurp the chief place, and take on an impor- 
tance that does not belong to them. 

In flower pictures, those individuals which are 
close to the eye are usually the most important, 
and are to be treated as such, the forces of con- 
trast, of brilliancy, and of detail being brought to 
bear, to givte them prominence ; but in figure, 
animal, and landscape work, the chief object of the 
picture is often farther back. The more distant 
it is, the less detail is permissible ; but color, and 
especially contrast, are still legitimate resources 
for giving it due value. 

The simplest form of composition is that illus- 
trated by those studies of flowers which represent 
a branch, or cluster, supported by neither still life 
nor a horizontal plane. In such a picture, the 
flowers should be massed most heavily near the 
middle, and the interest should be concentrated 
on the individuals in the central group which are 
closest to the eye, those farther away being treated 
as of less importance, in proportion as they recede 
from the main group and from the spectator. 
When it is possible, the stems would better be 
permitted to extend to the edge of the picture, and 
be cut off by it ; but when this cannot properly be 


done, and the stems are broken inside the limits 
of the picture, so that the ends are visible, it is 
better to let them fade off to nothing than to stop 
them abruptly. Moreover, it is more artistic not 
to carry the background under the stems thus 
terminated. By ending the background when he 
ends the stems, the painter merely ceases work at 
that particular point ; for all the observer knows, 
the flowers may be in a vase, or may be growing 
on the plant itself, since the artist has not con- 
tinued the representation far enough to decide the 
matter. If the background is carried l^low and 
under the broken stems, however, they are effectu- 
ally cut off from any support, being detached from 
everything outside the picture, and left floating in 
the air. This effect is always displeasing to a 
cultivated eye, because it is untrue. 

In the matter of grouping, no definite, exact 
directions can be given, obviating the necessity 
for the exertion of thought and judgment on the 
part of the student, because no two groups are, or 
should be, just alike. It may be said, however, 
that grouping in composition, does not mean simply 
placing certain items so that they are adjacent to 
each other ; it means bringing them into close 
relation, so that they cohere, and are regarded as a 
whole, instead of as separate individuals. In order 
to give this impression of coherency, the items. 


whether they are flowers, human figures, animals, 
trees, or other objects, must be arranged in such 
a way that all are not equally distant from the eye, 
but are at different degrees of removal, and in dif- 
ferent positions, some falling behind others, and 
none being definitely detached so that it does not 
come into connection with the rest, unless it is 
kept so subordinate in location and value that its 
isolation does not lender it important, while yet it 
finishes or helps out the meaning. 

Although isolation is sometimes resorted to as a 
means of^forcing the principal object in a picture 
into prominence, this is usually done in figure and 
animal compositions, when dramatic effects are 
desired. Sometimes, however, an especially fine 
tree in a landscape is thus brought into notice. In 
flower pictures, the chief flower, or cluster of 
flowers, must be well backed up by other, less im- 
portant, flowers and leaves, in different positions, 
so that there will be no impression of thinness nor 
poverty. While the principal group should face 
the observer, side and back views should be indi- 
cated among the subordinate flowers, to prevent 
the feeling that there is a blank side to the group, 
and that if the observer could go behind it, there 
would be nothing to see. Moreover, the middle of 
the group should never be open, so that large 
patches of the background are visible there, else a 


shallow, flat effect will be given. No matter how 
many individual flowers are represented, if they 
are scattered over the paper like stars in the sky, 
each detached from the others, a feeling of scanti- 
ness and weakness will be produced. Although 
the edges of the group may be thin, the middle 
must be full and rich. 

In representing figures and animals, they should 
be so arranged that no limbs appear to be missing. 
In real life, it often happens that a man stands in 
such a position that a person looking at him sees 
but one arm or one leg. It would be a serious 
mistake to reproduce such an attitude in a picture, 
however, because if the other leg or arm is not 
suggested in some way, there is no certainty that he 
possesses more than one ; whereas, if a very small 
portion, a hand or a foot, is shown, the eye will be 
satisfied that the entire limb is there. In this 
connection, the student may be reminded that all 
the things he really sees in nature are not equally 
well adapted for pictorial representation ; and that 
the skilful artist reproduces only such aspects of 
actual objects as are most effective. 

In the case of large crowds, where many indi- 
viduals are closely packed together, the complete 
figure of every one, or an indication of all his 
limbs, cannot, of course, be given, but the rule 
should be followed out in the figures nearest the 


eye, the others being simply suggested, to give the 
effect of multitude. 

The arrangement of landscape and other back- 
grounds which are not simply color-washes, should 
be guided by the arrangement of the subject of 
the picture, and should never be allowed to inter- 
fere with it. For example, if a deer is represented 
as standing in an open space, with trees in the dis- 
tance, they should be so placed as not to distract 
attention from the deer, nor take away from his 
importance as the subject of the picture. If they 
are so situated that they diminish that sense of 
contrast which is requisite to bring the deer into 
prominence, they will be a defect in the composition, 
not an assistance. In case the trees are located 
behind the deer in such a way that the branches 
come into conflict with his antlers, one of the most 
striking characteristics of the animal will be ren- 
dered non-effective ; whereas, if the trees are kept 
more toward the side, and the head of the deer is 
seen against a plain background of distant sky, 
mountain, snow, or water, it will retain the impor- 
tance that rightfully belongs to it. It is quite true 
that a real deer does not always stand in such a 
way that his antlers are clear of the trees behind 
him ; but the trained artist will choose the moment 
when he does, for depicting him. The fact that 
a thing sometimes appears under unsatisfactory 


conditions in nature, is by no means a reason for 
representing it under those conditions in a picture. 
The subject should be painted in the aspect most 
favorable to it, and to the purposes of the picture 
in which it is placed. 

Objects in the foreground should never be 
allowed to form a continuous line, but should be 
brought forward a little here, and thrown back a 
little there, to avoid stiffness and regularity. 

Attention has been called, in previous chapters, 
to the comparative value of certain colors — the 
power of some to give prominence and nearness, 
and of others to give distance and vagueness. The 
various qualities of different colors, if they are 
properly managed, are of great aid in producing 
effects of roundness, depth, and perspective. For 
instance, if an artist is arranging a group of min- 
gled pink and red roses, for painting, the appear- 
ance of roundness in his picture will be much 
increased if he places the majority of the light 
roses on the light side of the group, and the larger 
part of the dark ones on the shadowed side, allow- 
ing a light rose to occupy the principal position in 
the foreground. The values of the light and shade 
in the picture are thus intensified, and the fore- 
ground flower comes forward naturally ; whereas, 
if the case were reversed, and the light flowers 
were massed on the dark side, while the dark ones 


occupied the light side and the front of the pic- 
ture, the comparative value of the light and shade 
would be much reduced, the light appearing less 
bright, and the shadow less deep. The dark roses, 
being assigned the conspicuous position, would yet 
not assert themselves sufficiently ; while the light 
roses, holding the obscure position, would neverthe- 
less assert themselves too much. 

Reference has also been made to the frequent 
necessity of throwing back certain parts of a group 
by carrying over them a general wash of gray, or 
of the background tint. This should never be 
^undertaken until the picture is well on its way to- 
ward completion, as in the early stages it is not 
possible to know just where the wash is needed, 
and how deep it should be. It is always easy to 
tone down a color, but it is not easy to tone it up 
again, if it has been made too dull ; therefore the 
subduing wash should not be put on until the pic- 
ture has progressed so far that the student is quite 
certain what the ultimate effect will be. 

In undertaking a large or complicated picture, 
it is always best to make a rough study of the in- 
tended composition beforehand, on another piece 
of paper than that meant for the actual painting. 
This may be done with charcoal, the general plan 
of the picture being sketched in, and the proposed 
colors washed on in flat tints. In this way the 


Student obtains some idea of how the composition 
and color-scheme he has in his mind will work out 
practically, and where additions, omissions, and 
modifications will be necessary. When the sketch 
has been altered and improved until he is satisfied 
with the composition and coloring as a whole, he 
can use it as a guide in painting the picture itself. 
Thus he avoids the risk of making mistakes where 
they cannot be rectified. 

Greater latitude may be enjoyed in black-and- 
white composition than in that where positive color 
has to be considered. Many arrangements which 
would appear to be patchy, if worked out in poly- 
chrome, are entirely harmonious in monochrome, 
because the element of color contrast is absent, 
and the composition is held together by one uni- 
versal tint. For example, in making a color study 
of red flowers and green leaves, it would be so 
grouped that most of the flowers would be in juxta- 
position, and form a mass of red, because if they 
were separated from each other, the effect would 
be thin, spotty, and unpleasant, the whole picture 
being broken up into scattered bits of contrasting 
color. A monochrome study of the same flowers 
and leaves, however, even if they were arranged 
in a somewhat scattered way, would present a com- 
paratively agreeable aspect, because all the shades 
would be variations of the same color, and the pic- 
ture would not be divided against itself. 


Water color pictures are always mounted with 
a mat, which may be white, gold, or colored. It 
should never be less than two and a half inches wide, 
and may often be more. A suitable mat adds very 
much to the pleasing appearance of a picture, while 
an unsuitable one puts it at a great disadvantage. 
A dead white mat is seldom so satisfactory as a 
mat of a cream or grayish tone, because it takes 
away from the importance of the high lights in the 
painting. All strong, definite colors are to be 
avoided, as attracting attention to themselves in- 
stead of serving as a set-off to what they surround. 
Grayish green, 6cru, cream, and pale gray give 
the best effects, and are appropriate for all pictures 
having a light background or one of medium tone. 
Those having a dark background look better in a 
gold mat. 

Mats covered with silk, or other fabric, are to 
be avoided as incongruous and inartistic ; and mats 
suggesting a continuation of the picture to which 
they belong are also undesirable. A mat should 
make no pretence to being a work of art in itself, 
for its purpose is simply to isolate the work of art 
it surrounds, and heighten the general effect of the 

The frames chosen for water color paintings 
should always be inconspicuous. The frame for 
a large picture must be correspondingly heavy, to 


preserve its strength and proper proportion, but 
for pictures of medium and small size, the narrower 
the frame the better. With a gold mat, a gold or 
oak frame is usually employed, but with light mats, 
white or cream enamel is preferable. 

Many volumes would be necessary for adequately 
dealing with the subject of Water Color Painting 
in all its branches. This little book makes no 
pretence of being exhaustive. If the inexperienced 
student gains from it such elementary knowledge 
as will help him to overcome the difficulties which 
beset a beginner's path, its purpose will be com- 
pletely fulfilled. 


Chromatic : Relating to color or to colors. Chromatic order 
or succession, the order or succession in which colors 
appear in the rainbow. 

Foreshorten : To represent, on a plane surface, any object 
as if it extended toward the spectator. To shorten by 
drawing in perspective. Foreshortening, the represen- 
tation in a foreshortened way. 

Juxtaposition : A placing, or being placed, in nearness or 
contiguity, or side by side. 

Local Color : The color which belongs to an object, and 
is not caused by accidental influences, as of reflection, 
shadow, etc. 

Modeling: The expression or indication, on a plane sur- 
face, of solid form, usually by means of light and 

Monochrome : A picture or drawing in a single color ; a 
picture made with a single color. 

Perspective : The art and the science of so delineating ob- 
jects that they shall seem to grow smaller as they recede 
from the eye. The effect of distance upon the appear- 
ance of objects, by means of which the eye recognizes 
them as being at a more or less measurable distance. 

Polychrome : As distinguished from monochrome, the art 
of painting with many colors instead of one. 

Technique : The method of performance in any art ; techni- 
cal skill ; artistic execution. 

Value: In an artistic composition, the character of any 
part in its relation to other parts, and to the whole ; 
its importance in the composition taken as a whole. 


Accents, 134. 

Action, 184, 192. 

Amateurs, 12, 42, 97, loi, 186. 

Anatomy, 183. 

Animals, 13, 181. 

Apples, 153. 

Aureolin, 113, 176. 

Background, 17, 125, 146, 237, 240. 

Birds, 200. 

Blendii\g, 146. 

Blotting Paper, 96, 143. 

Blue Flowers, 144. 

Body Colors, 45, 218. 

Books, 151. 

Broken Color, 167. 

Brown Madder, 118. 

Brown Ochre, 118, 179. 

Brush Case, 84. 

Brushes, 7S. 

Buildings, 162, 167. 

Burnt Carmine, 118. 

Burnt Sienna, 118, 179, 210. 

Burnt Umber, 118, 179. 

Cadmiums, 114, 176. 
Cake Colors, 64. 
Calendars, 214, 
Carelessness, 18, 84. 
Care of Brushes, 79. 
Carmine, 117, 178. 

Carnations, 43. 
Cast Shadows, 128. 
Chapter Headings, 206. 
Chinese White, 65, 119, 179. 
Cleanliness, 25, 27, 68, 219. 
Clothing, 187, 194. 
Clouds, 162. 
Color Boxes, 61, 65. 
Coloring of Animals, 199. 
Coloring of Flesh, 196. 
Coloring of Flowers, 63, 113, 
Coloring of Landscapes, 174. 
Colors, 45. 

Color-washes, 26, 143. 
Complementary Colors, 121. 
Composition, 221. 
Composition of Colors, 48. 
Contrast, 120. 
Copying, 15, 106, 159, 170. 
Corrections, 107. 
Correctness, 27- 
Cotton, 195. 
Cow, 201. 

Crayon Holders, 95. 
Criticism, 11, 40. 

Daffodils, i. 

Delft, 202. 

Detail, 37, 134, 155, 169. 

Discouragement, 32. 

Discrimination, 34. 




Distance, 130, 152, 242. 
Dogwood, ^^. 
Drapery, 151, 187, 194. 
Drawing, 12, 182. 
Drawing Paper, 90. 
Drying Out, 25, 16S. 
Dry Method, 4, 102. 

Easel, 96. 
Easter Lilies, 135. 
Emerald Green, 115, 177. 
Erasers, 29, 92. 
Explanations, 11. 
Eyes, 32, 35, 197. 

Fabrics, 195. 

Facsimiles, 16. 

Feeling, 157. 

Figures, 13, 181, 216. 

Finishing, 152. 

Fish, 200. 

Flesh, 193. 

Flowers, 101. 

Foliage, 167. 

Foreground, 17, 127, 175, 241. 

Frames, 244. 

French Blue, 116, 177, 210. 

Fruit, 146. 

Fugitive Colors, 47, 58. 

Genius, 8. 

Glass, 149. 

Graduated Washes, 26, 162. 

Grouping, 237. 

Hair, 197. 
Hands, 191. 
Hardness, 141. 
Haste, 22, 99. 
Hatching, 198. 

High Light, 30, 131, 147, 199. 
Hooker's Green, No. 2, 115, 177, 

Horizon Line, 128, 166, 169. 
Horizontal Plane, 127, 166. 

Illustration, 205. 
Indian Red, 178, 210. 
Indian Yellow, 114, 176. 
Indigo, 115, 177, 210. 
Individuality, 191. 
Industry, 10. 
Initial Letters, 206. 
Insignificant Flowers, 113. 
Introduction, i. 
Isolation, 230, 238. 

Knowledge, 35. 

Lamp Black, 62, 210. 

Landscape, 154. 

Large Flower Pictures, iii. 

Leaves, 108, 123, 138, 145. 

Lettering, 217. 

Light, 30, 97, 189. 

Lightning, 165. 

Light Red, 117, 178. 

Linen, 195. 

Lines of Composition, 228. 

List of Colors, 63. 

Lithographs, 16. 

Local Color, 132, 246. 

Marines, 154. 

Materials, "j^. 

Mats, 244. 

Metallic Paints, 150, 216. 

Middle of Flowers, 106. 

Mixing Color, 142, 161. 

Modeling, 246. 

Plate I 







r •